The House of Dun, c.1720-c.1750 : inception, development and realisation
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The House of Dun (near Montrose) was built to designs by William Adam (1689-1748) for David Erskine, Lord Dun (1673-1758), a judge of the court of session. The history of its inception is complex and intriguing. First proposals for the house were drawn up by Alexander McGill (d.1734) in January 1723. These were sent for the appraisal of Lord Dun's cousin, the exiled Jacobite John Erskine, Earl of Mar (1675-1732), an amateur architect of considerable ability. Mar provided counter-proposals for a house on a square plan dated Paris, April 1723, and a scheme for an elaborate formal garden. Neither McGill's nor Mar's designs were realised. William Adam subsequently provided two designs (both illustrated in Vitruvius Scoticus) for the house, the second of which was realised. Although the house has a datestone which bears “1730", documentary evidence suggests that Adam's final plan was arrived at after his earlier version had been ammended by Mar in 1731. The resulting design is the product of a symbiotic exchange of ideas in which Adam developed the triumphal arch motif for the main facade of the house first suggested by Mar in 1723 and again in 1731. The various schemes are documented in the form of both monograph reports, and in Mar's case, several original drawings. The main sources for these are the Erskine of Dun MSS at the Scottish Record Office, Edinburgh: GD 123, and West Register House for Mar's drawings plus one letter (RHP 13256-8, 13288/1-8 and 13289). Notable for its plasterwork by Joseph Enzer (d.1743), several accounts for the fitting-up of the house survive, as well as unattributed pencil sketches for a house based on Mar's design of 1723, and a plan for a formal garden. The dissertation makes extensive use of these sources to examine the history of the inception of the house and the contemporary garden, which may carry with it, important implications about the associative work of Mar and McGill pre-1715 and the emergence of William Adam as the most notable architect of the post-Bruce generation in Scotland.
Thesis, MLitt Master of Letters
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