Robert Adam, born in Fife, Scotland, traveling in Italy as a young man discovered Pompeii and Herculaneum, buried by the volcano Vesuvius in 79 A.D. This was the first discovery of Roman domestic architecture. He observed rooms richly ornamented with mosaics and frescoes, fine, elegant, and thin lines of animals, plants and scantily clothed elegant women. Rooms were not boxes but laid out in a variety of geometric shapes, notably in plan but in elevation as well.
Upon returning to England, he and his brother James became a dynamic architectural force. They designed public and private buildings in England and Scotland, and numerous interiors, pieces of furniture, and decorative objects. His light, elegant style was a personal reconstitution of Palladian, Renaissance, and antique elements.
The Adam style was vastly popular and has never disappeared. It dominated the Federal period in American architecture.
Interesting examples of his work are at Edinburgh (Register House, above), Osterly Park (1761-80) and Syon House (1762-69), both near London.