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Adair, William Robert (1777–1805)

Adair, William Robert

London; carver and gilder (fl.1777–1805)

Initially carried on his business from 26 Wardour St, Soho, which had been earlier used by John Adair. In 1799 he was trading from 55 King St, Golden Sq., but by 1802 the business had transferred to 47 Brewer St, opposite Gt Pulteney St. A trade label with this address is attached to the back of a giltwood frame surrounding a portrait of Ayscough Boucherett by Sir Thomas Lawrence (private coll.). On this label Adair describes himself as ‘CARVER and GILDER to Their MAJESTIES’. An earlier version of this label giving the Wardour Street address with manuscript alterations occurs on the back of a gilt picture frame in which 'No. 108' has been changed to '26' and 'HER MAJESTY' to 'their MAJESTies' [illus. Gilbert (1996), figs 1-4]. In 1777 a policy was taken out with the Sun Insurance Office by Mary Adair of ‘The Golden Head’, Wardour St for £1,000 of which £330 was for ‘utensils and stock in timbershop’. Supplied picture frames and glass for Sir John Griffin Griffin for Audley End, Essex, amounting to £1 0s 3d in 1777 and was paid the following year. In 1788 an account for Lord Howard amounting to £5 14s 2d was issued in respect of picture and mirror frames, and a further account for 6s exists for 1791. Adair also supplied items for Sir John Griffin Griffin's London home in New Burlington St. Accounts dated 1779 list picture and mirror frames, glazing, carving and gilding, amounting to £23 19s 9d. In 1789 a further amount of 13s was charged for similar work. The Lord Chamberlain's accounts, 1799–1801 and 1805, list payments amounting to £268 for work done at St James's Palace, including repairs, regilding the state chair and two stools and regilding the railing round the throne. In 1799 he carved the sofas supplied by John Russell for the Queen's House, Buckingham Palace - three large and ‘3 small sofas to go between the windows of the Great Saloon’. His name appears in the Royal Household accounts in 1799, 1801 and 1805 for working at Windsor Castle, carving flowers on a pair of sofas and gilding them, making a large pier glass and repairing carving on a state chair. Plate glasses and chimney frames were supplied for the Duke of Cambridge's apartments. The total charge was £286 6s 6d. In 1802 Adair carved and gilded a cornice for a canopy, a chair of state and two stools for Lord Whitworth, British Ambassador to France; these are now at Knole, Kent.

Source: DEFM; Drury, ‘Two Georgian Chairs of State and a State Canopy at Knole’, Furniture History (1985); Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996); Castle, ‘The France Family of Upholsterers and Cabinet-Makers’, Furniture History (2005).

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.