A Book Tribute to Balkan Inspired Architecture

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In Four Emperors and an Architect architectural historian Alicia Salter exposes one of the hidden gems of the Balkan Peninsula, the remains of the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (ad 244– 312) in Split, Croatia. Diocletian was a builder and enthusiastic patron of architecture. Fourteen centuries later, his palace made a huge impression on ambitious young British architect, Robert Adam whose visit to the palace in the 18th Century was hindered by the ruling Venetians, who suspected him of spying.

This didn’t stop the young Scotsman, however, and seven years later he published his monumental and highly successful work, The Ruins of Spalatro (as Split was then known), which confirmed him as a rising new talent.

Alicia’s book gives a fascinating insight into how Robert Adam was influenced by the architecture of Diocletian’s palace during his Grand Tour, to the extent that he incorporated features in some of his most famous houses such as Kedleston, Syon and his ill- fated Adelphi development in London.

By intertwining biographical and historical background with a detailed architectural and historical descriptions Alicia Salter takes the reader on a tour of the palaces of the Tetrarchy, one of the most important periods in the history of the classical world, and Adam’s consequent buildings around England and Scotland.

Diocletian’s life ended in disappointment following his abdication. Adam, too was to suffer deep disappointment as he grew older. There’s no doubt though that it was Adam who brought Diocletian’s palace to the attention of the scholars and academics of his day. As the first detailed study of this ancient site, it remained the classic guide to British travellers who dared venture to the little-known Balkans. Fascinatingly something that is only now, after the end of the Cold War, in the process of changing.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, calls the book “A mine of information, insight and analysis, beautifully illustrated. Alicia Salter’s fine book offers that rarest of combinations: authority and readability.”

This  accessible style of this 200-page book will appeal to anyone interested in architecture, history and travel.

About the author:

Architectural historian Alicia Salter M.A. (Oxon) M.Phil (Bath) has lectured extensively for NADFAS, and major museums in the USA. She regularly takes clients for Swan Hellenic and Martin Randall Travel to major cities in Europe. Her interest in Croatia and Sir Robert Taylor inspired this book. Specifications: pages: 196pp 4-colour illustrations: 197 colour and 20 b&w photographs, drawings, maps and engravings. Size: 205mm (w) x 275mm (h). £20.00 + £2.50 p&p. isbn: 978-0-9575719.

Available online at www.fouremperorsandanarchitect.co.uk and in good book shops.

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