lansdowne house

Dining room from Lansdowne House, London, 18th century (1765–68)

Robert Adam (English, 1728–1792)

Wood, plaster, and stone

The house was completed from Adam’s designs for Lord Shelburne in 1768 and was a meeting place for Whig social and political circles in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

In the preface to The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam, a folio publication issued in installments during the 1770s, Robert Adam discussed the function and decoration of the dining room: “The eating rooms are considered as the apartments of conversation, in which we are to pass a great part of our time. This renders it desirable to have them fitted up with elegance and splendor, but in a style different from that of other apartments. Instead of being hung with damask, tapestry & c. they are always finished with stucco, and adorned with statues and paintings, that they may not retain the smell of the victuals.” At Lansdowne House, the room for eating and conversation became a combination dining room and sculpture gallery. Shelburne amassed his impressive collection of antique sculpture—which occupied not only the dining room niches but other rooms of the house—between 1765 and 1773, first through James Adam and later through the Scottish painter and antiquary Gavin Hamilton.