View of Somerset Place, including the Adelphi, etc
Coloured aquatintpublished 1 January 1791
About the work
The Adelphi was a complex of buildings, which included an elevated terrace of 22 private houses. One of its most famous residents was the actor David Garrick. The space below the terrace was rented out as warehouse accommodation. Built between 1768 and 1773, the Adelphi development was highly imaginative, but in the event financially disastrous, for Scottish architect brothers Robert (1728-1792) and James Adam (1732-1794). Their bid for immortality was enshrined in the name of the buildings; ‘Adelphoi’ being Greek for brothers. Like the architects, the workforce came from Scotland: large numbers of Scottish labourers were brought to work on the site at a cheap rate and bagpipes were played daily. However, a national credit crisis of 1772 led to the abandonment of the project and to near financial ruin for the Adam brothers. With the exception of No. 7 Adam Street and one or two others, the buildings were demolished in 1936.
About the artist
Joseph Farington was born in Leigh, Lancashire, son of the vicar of Leigh and rector of Warrington. He was educated in Manchester and studied under Richard Wilson in London from 1763. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1769 and became an Academician in 1785. His strength was in pen, ink and wash drawings of topographical views. He made extensive sketching tours of the UK and settled in the North Country from 1776. Works made there led to the publication ‘Views of the Lakes of Cumberland and Westmorland’ (1785). In 1780 he suffered a breakdown after his wife died. In the next year he moved to London. He died on a visit to his brother in Lancashire, when he fell down steps at Didsbury Church. His personal diaries were published in 1934.