By 1780 Robert Adam’s popularity was beginning to decline, and Horace Walpole, after visiting the architect Henry Holland’s new Carlton House, wrote, “How sick one shall be, after this caste palace, of Mr. Adam’s gingerbread and sippets of embroidery.”
Robert Adam designed and built a number of romantic Neo-Gothic castles, mostly dating from the 1780s, in Scotland. The most important of the castles is Culzean, Ayrshire, for the earls of Cassilis (1777-90). Another important work in the Gothic style was the interior at Alnwick Castle, Northumberland (c. 1770-80; destroyed in the 19th century).
Toward the end of his life, Robert built the Register House, Edinburgh (1772-92), in which he at last realized the conception of a monumental domed hall within a square, envisaged at Syon some years earlier; and in 1789 designed the University of Edinburgh, whose entrance front is perhaps his most successful exterior. At Fitzroy Square, London (1790), and Charlotte Square, Edinburgh (1791), he experimented for the last time with the introduction of movement into street architecture.
As a designer of furniture, Adam played a leading role. The furniture style he evolved, popularized by the cabinetmaker George Hepplewhite, was always meant to harmonize with the rest of the interiors. In this field, too, he was prolific, turning his hand to everything from organ cases and sedan chairs to saltcellars and door fittings. It is one of the outstanding features of an Adam interior that everything, even the smallest detail, was part to the unified scheme created by the architect.
Robert Adam died on March 3,1792, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The bulk of the nearly 9,000 drawings he left were purchased by the architect Sir John Soane in 1833 and are now in the Soane Museum, London. (S.Mi.)