The Kenwood House, London. In early April last year I visited the magnificent Kenwood House in Hampstead, London. The feature films Sense and Sensibility and Notting Hill were filmed here in 1995 and 1999, respectfully. During the late 1750s William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield commissioned the most famous of the three Adam Brothers, Robert Adam (1728-1792), to remodel the mansion with the most fashionable neoclassical interiors of the period. Purchased by the Anglo-Irish philanthropist Lord Iveagh of Guinness brewing fame in 1925, it was donated to the British nation in 1927 upon his death.
The Adam Brothers were known for including Roman decorative motifs like garlands, vases, urns, arabesque vine scrolls, swags and ribbons on their interiors, including on their door furniture. On the other side of the pond, after the American Revolution of the late 18th century, the 13 Colonies that were still very much influenced by the fashions of Britain, referred to this Adams Style as the Federal Style.
Known as the “Grand Tour”, during the 17th and 18th centuries, upper class young British men and women, as part of their general education, traveled to the archaeological sites of antiquity to see the most outstanding representations of classical art and architecture.
The most famous door hardware Adam Style decoration, still very popular in the 21st century, is the circumference beading typical of many neoclassical knob designs. This design was found in abundance on the interiors of the excavated frescoes of Pompeii and Herculaneum, famous for their sudden destruction by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.