LONDON, ENGLAND.- The Victoria & Albert Museum will present James Athenian Stuart, on view 15 March - 24 June 2007. The work of James Athenian Stuart, the influential 18th-century Neo-Classical architect best known for his interiors of Spencer House, London, will be on display at the V&A this spring. This will be the first display devoted solely to the work of Stuart (1713-1788), who was known as the Athenian due to his key role in the development of the Neo-Classical style in England. The display will reveal his talents across the visual arts from paintings to garden monuments and from interior decorative schemes to medals. Over 200 items drawn from private and public collections in Britain and the USA will be on display, including rarely seen sketchbooks, paintings, ornamental objects, furniture and architectural designs.
Stuarts career paralleled that of the celebrated architect Robert Adam. His influential book Antiquities of Athens (first published 1762) was the first accurate record of Classical Greek architecture and served as a principal source book for architects and designers well into the 19th century. Inspired by antiquity, Stuart created influential buildings such as the Doric temple at Hagley (1758), the earliest Greek-revival style building in Europe.
Today Stuart is best known for his innovative interior decoration at Spencer House, St James Park (1756-66) one of the few great 18th-century town houses to survive in London. Here he was responsible for the painted decorations and architectural details of Lady Spencers elegant private drawing room, the Great Room and the famous Painted Room. The V&A display will include some of the furniture Stuart designed for Spencer House together with the original designs for the rooms and specially commissioned photographs of the complete interior schemes.
Dr. Susan Weber Soros, Director of the Bard Graduate Center, New York and curator of the display, said: James Stuart was one of Britains most important architects and designers of the 18th century. He saw the ancient world with fresh eyes. By taking ancient design details and adapting them to modern customs and homes he played a central role in the development of the Neo-Classical style. This display will reveal Stuarts scholarship, creativity and versatility.