Basic Biographical Details

Name: George Richardson
Designation: Architect, Draughtsman
Born: c. 1738
Died: 1813
Bio Notes: George Richardson was born about 1738. His began as a draughtsman in the office of Robert and James Adam and he may have been articled to John Adam. On 10 March 1759 he was described as 'apprentice' when he witnessed John Adam's will.

Richardson accompanied James Adam on the Grand Tour from 1760 to 1763 and was able to see first-hand the architectural sources for what was to become the 'Adam style'. James Adam clearly did not encourage his architectural aspirations as he had to conceal his sketches from him to avoid his wrath although they were made in Richardson's own time. He knew he had little hope of setting up in independent practice - lack of skill and money - and for some years he remained an employee of the Adams in the London office. However it appears that he was working independently by 1765 when he was awarded a premium from the Society of Arts for an architectural design. From 1766 he exhibited at the Society under his own name. In 1774 he stated that he had been a ‘draughtsman and designer’ to the Adam brothers for more than eighteen years.

Although he was a fine draughtsman he does not seem to have designed complete buildings. His main sources of income were architectural publications and teaching. Near the end of his life he was in straightened circumstances and was helped by Joseph Nolkens and received 30 guineas from the Royal Academy Charity Fund in 1807. He died about 1813. The ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ reported that his drawings and prints were sold on 29 November 1813.

Richardson entered the competition for the Royal Exchange in Dublin and exhibited the design for a church at Stapleford in Leicestershire for the 4th Earl of Harborough. Two other similar designs for churches may also be by Richardson.

As a decorative designer Richardson played a significant role in the interiors at Kedleston, Derbyshire. A number of drawings for these survive. Ceilings for Kedleston and for Sir Lawrence Dundas’s house in Edinburgh are illustrated in his ‘Book of Ceilings’.

‘A Book of Ceilings, composed in the Stile of the Antique Grotesque’ (dedicated to Lord Scarsdale) (1774-6, 1793)
‘Iconology, or a Collection of Emblematical Figures’ 2v (1779-80) (an English version of Cesare Ripa’s ‘Iconologia, 1593)
‘A New collection of Chimney Pieces’ (1781) (dedicated to Sir Lawrence Dundas)
‘A Treatise on the Five Orders of Architecture’ (1787) (with observations on antiquities in Rome, Pola and southern France, made in 1760-63) (dedicated to Thomas Sandby)
‘New designs in Architecture’ (1792) (dedicated to Henry, Earl of Gainsborough)
‘Capitals of Columns and Friezes measured from the Antique’ (1793)
‘Orginal Designs for Country Seats of Villas’ (1795)
‘A New Book of Ornaments in the Antique Style’ (1796) reissued a ‘A Collection of Ornaments in the Antique Style’ (1816)
The New Vitruvius Britannicus’ 2v. (1802-8 and 1808-10)

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect, draughtsman (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 2John Adam  Apprentice 
Item 2 of 2R & J Adam  Draughtsman 

Buildings and Designs

This architect, draughtsman was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 2 Royal Bank of Scotland Headquarters  EdinburghScotlandDid he work on the plasterwork? Ceiling illustrated in Richardson's 'Book of Ceilings'.
Item 2 of 2Late 1700sHaddo HouseHaddo/Methlick AberdeenshireScotlandCeiling design in new dining room on north front taken from George Richardson's'Book of Ceilings'


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect, draughtsman:
Item 1 of 4Colvin, Howard2008A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 London: YUP. 4th edition 
Item 2 of 4Farington, Joseph Diary  Entries for 12 July 1807, 12 July 1812, 16 May 1814.
Item 3 of 4Fleming, John1962Robert Adam and his Circle  pp368-9, 377 etc
Item 4 of 4New DNB New Dictionary of National Biography