Robert Adam was a suave, ambitious, socially adept and talented architect who helped pioneer neoclassicism. He sold this new style to ambitious aristocrats such as Rowland Winn.
Robert Adam was the son of a prominent Scottish architect. Later called ‘Bob the Roman’, he introduced into Britain his own distinct classical style, inspired by the archaeology and ornament he had seen on his travels and researches in Italy. This chimed perfectly with the rising popularity of all things Roman amongst Britain’s elites. By the time of the Nostell commission, Adam had become the most sought-after architect of his day.
A socially adept and an ambitious self-promoter, Adam skilfully pushed aside James Paine who had been working on Nostell for the 5th Baronet’s father, but who had gone out of fashion. The 5th Baronet trusted Adam entirely and treated him generously. This was in contrast to Chippendale who was treated as a mere tradesman.
Adam was arguably one of the first true interior designers, creating everything from grand buildings to small individual objects to go into his carefully contrived interiors. We do not know exactly when Adam and Chippendale met, but it is clear that they worked closely together on a number of houses. It is likely that Adam recommended Chippendale to the 5th Baronet as someone who could design furniture really well and able to meet his exacting standards.