Vitruvius Scoticus – a Scottish classic from our special collections

We’re celebrating our architectural collections in VisitScotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.

In the 1720s foremost Scottish architect of his time, William Adam (1689-1748) started planning his publication of Vitruvius Scoticus. He aimed to present a collection of architectural drawings illustrating examples of his own classical building style and that of his contemporaries.

Vitruvius Scoticus was started and named in response to the Scottish architect and architectural writer Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus published 1715-1725. Vitruvius Scoticus was finally published in 1812 by William Adam’s grandson William Adam of Blair Adam (1751-1839), and contains 160 plates, including 100 of Adam’s own designs.

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William Adam was the leading architect in Scotland, designing and building numerous country houses and public buildings during the early C18th.

Among his best known works are Hopetoun House near Edinburgh, and Duff House in Banff. His individual, exuberant style built on the Palladian style, but with Baroque details inspired by Vanbrugh and Continental architecture.

Vitruvius Scoticus continues to remain a reference for many an architect and architectural historian documenting the early development of a classical style in Scotland.

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To request to view Vitruvius Scoticus email central.artanddesign.library@edinburgh.gov.uk or tel 0131 242 8040 – appointments only.

A facsimile copy of Vitruvius Scoticus is also available to consult in the Art & Design Library without an appointment.

For more information on William Adam search the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

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