Abbey McGrane

ADAM, R. Ruins of the palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalamatia (London, 1764)‌

General Plan of the Town and Fortifications of Spalatro (Plate II)


Robert Adam is often considered an architect of genius. Julius Bryant says about him: “One of the few British geniuses to have been recognised internationally in his own day, Robert Adam had an influence stretching from North America to Russia”.1 Adam was certainly an international character, as is seen by his fascination with the town of Spalatro in south west Croatia shown in this detailed plan. Adam decided to go to Spalatro to expand upon his work on Diocletian’s baths in Rome.2 The image shows the location of various areas in the town including the palace; the great bay and harbour; the Lazareto; the mountain Margaliano; the fort of Grippe; the suburbs and the surrounding grounds.3 The town was originally a Greek colony but the Romans soon founded the province of Dalmatia4, where the town lies. The image was engraved by E. Rooker who appears as an engraver various times throughout the book.

‌General Plan of the Palace and its Surroundings (Plate V)


Plate V depicts the general plan of the palace. Diocletian was emperor from 284-3055, he was born in the province of Dalmatia sometime around 244.6 He rose through the ranks and became commander of the guard of Emperor Numerianus and before long he was proclaimed Emperor.7 The palace was built in 305, twelve years after Diocletian had perfected his renowned tetrarchy system.8 Just before he officially moved into the palace, Diocletian voluntarily abdicated as Emperor.9 After the Romans abandoned the site it remained empty for several centuries until residents fled behind its walls from barbarians in the 7th century.10 It was in 1757 that Robert Adam first visited Spalatro and several years later he published his engravings in the book in question.11 The image was engraved by F. Latton.

‌Side View of Temple of Jupiter (Plate XXVII)


The image shows the circular niches of the temple, square niches, stairs of the temple, door of the temple, and a covered colonnade round the temple. The engraver, the famous Franceso Bartalozzi, used the method of copper printing, as has been used on all the images in the book. The engraving worked as such, they used a hardened steel tool called a burin, or graver, to cut the design into the surface, traditionally a copper plate.12 The process of copper plate engraving was most likely first used in 1430 in Germany, after the wood-cut it is the second oldest print-making technique.13 Mass reproduction eventually became possible in the 16th century.14 The Temple of Jupiter is located in the courts of the imperial section of the palace; it was later transformed into a baptistery to which a Roman campanile was added in the 14th and 15th centuries.15Originally the temple had a porch supported by columns, but the only column that can still be seen today dates only from the 5th century.16 The walls of the temple support a barrel-vaulted ceiling and there is a decorative frieze around the other three walls. Below the temple is a crypt, which was once used as a church.


1.Bryant, J, Robert Adam Architect of Genius (English Heritage, No Date) p.5

2.Fleming, J, Robert Adam & His Circle (London: John Murray, 1962) p.235

3.Adam, R, Ruins of Diocletian’s Palace

4.Everett-Heath, J, Concise Dictionary of World Place Names (Oxford University Press, 2005)

5.Barnes, T, The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982) p.4

6.Ibid, p.46

7.No Author, ‘Diocletian’ [Accessed: 08.05.13]

8.Brothers, A.J, ‘Diocletian’s Palace at Split’ in Greece & Rome Vol.19 No.2 (Cambridge University Press, 1972) p.176Ibid, p.176

10. No Author, ‘Diocletian’s Palace’'sPalace.htm [Accessed: 08.05.13]

11. Brothers, A.J, ‘Diocletian’s Palace at Split’ in Greece & Rome Vol.19 No.2 (Cambridge University Press, 1972) p. 175

12. ‘Abraham Bosse’ Bibliotheque Nationale de France 1645 [Accessed: 08.05.13]

13. No Author, ‘Copperplate Engraving’ [Accessed: 08.05.13]

14. Ibid [Accessed: 08.05.13]

15. ‘Palace of Diocletian’ [Accessed: 08.05.13]

16. ‘Lonely Planet Review of Temple of Jupiter’ [Accessed: 08.05.13]