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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1771 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Adam, Robert, born 1728 - died 1792 (designer)
    Adamson, David (maker)
    Zucchi, Antonio, born 1726 - died 1796 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster, with painting in oil on canvas-backed paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Adelphi Development Company, through The Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    W.43:1 to 5-1936

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case CEILING []

Object Type
Robert Adam's ceilings were the masterpieces of his interiors. Decorated with mythological paintings and classical motifs in plasterwork, his ceiling designs echo those of the floor carpets. Fashionable as his interiors were, they did not meet with universal approval. To Horace Walpole they were 'Gingerbread and snippets of embroidery'.

This ceiling is the only piece left from the drawing room of 5 Royal Terrace in the Adelphi, London. The Adelphi (Greek for 'brothers') was a speculative development on the banks of the Thames, off the Strand, by Robert Adam and his younger brother James. However, the exorbitant cost of the foundations, as well as the high tides and pollution of the river brought the venture at one stage close to bankruptcy.

David Garrick, for whose house the ceiling was designed, was the greatest actor of his day. He was a friend of Robert and James Adam, whom he addressed as 'My dear adelphi' (Greek for brothers). Antonio Zucchi, who probably executed the mythological figures on the ceiling, was an Italian decorative painter. He is known to have worked in other houses in the Adelphi.

Subjects Depicted
The ceiling is decorated with griffins, scrolls and festoons, with the Four Seasons in rectangular plaques. In the central roundel is painting of Apollo, his horses being fed by the Four Seasons. This motif was repeated on the ceiling of the saloon at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire (National Trust).

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1771 (made)


Adam, Robert, born 1728 - died 1792 (designer)
Adamson, David (maker)
Zucchi, Antonio, born 1726 - died 1796 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Plaster, with painting in oil on canvas-backed paper


Width: 700 cm approx., Length: 1000 cm approx.

Object history note

Made for the first floor drawing room of 5 Royal Terrace, Adelphi, London, the residence of the actor David Garrick (1717-1779) from 1772 until his death.Designed by Robert Adam (born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, 1728, died in London, 1792); possibly made by David Adamson (active 1770-1790); painted by Antonio Pietro Francesco Zucchi, (born in Venice, Italy, 1726, died in Rome, 1795)

Descriptive line

Adelphi ceiling

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Robert Adam's treatment of ceilings, derived from a close study of ancient Roman examples, was one of his most influential inventions. Their delicate patterns of low relief ornament and strong colours were set off by figurative panels carried out by Italian painters. This ceiling from Adam's Adelphi development in London, has been only partially restored. On half the ceiling the original painting has been revealed. On the other half, missing areas were painted in in the 1970s to suggest the complete scheme. The areas of plain colour were repainted in 2001. [27/03/2003]


Interiors; Architectural fittings; Scotland


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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