Although John Carr of York was the architecture for the south wing, Robert Adam fitted into it his greatest creation at Newby, the Statue Gallery: two square rooms with a central rotunda, in the style of a Roman house.
Adam’s concept for this sculpture gallery can be traced to his sketches of Roman ruins at Tivoli and to the influence of Clerisseau’s drawings and Piranesi’s archaeological plans. He also designed the pedestals, plinths and stove cases which conceal a heating system.
Entering from the Library (then the dining room) Weddell and his friends enjoyed the sculptures by lamp and candelight, which must have made them look as if they were in an ancient temple – which was the desired effect. Weddell is thought to have bought his entire collection from the dealer Thomas Jenkins in Rome.
Newby’s is probably the finest collection of Roman statuary in private hands in Britain; it consists mainly of a mixture of Roman pieces from the first century BC to the second century AD, with a few eighteenth century copies. Whilst it is clear that many have been heavily restored and even completed, this was a perfectly acceptable practice in the eighteenth century.
Weddell’s passion for classical sculpture led to nineteen chests of sculpture being transported to Yorkshire. To him and his fellow collectors the statuary symbolised refined taste and noble, classical virtues.