Interior Decorating Styles and Periods, Architecture and the Decorative Arts
European historic styles and periods plus design term dictionary. See European Decorative Arts, European Architecture, English Historic Styles and Periods, Italian Historic Styles and Periods, Design Dictionary
The history of decorative arts in Europe plus examples of the finest collections.
German: Meissen Porcelain
Josiah Wedgwood 1730-1795: He established a factory in Staffordshire in the 1760's to produce pottery, agateware and unglazed blue and green stoneware decorated with neo-classical white designs.
Glasgow Four: The Glasgow Four met at the Glasgow School of Art in the 1890's. The group included Charles Rennie Mackintosh, his wife, Margaret Macdonald, her sister Frances Macdonald, and her husband, Herbert McNair. Together they produced furniture, designs and metalwork which influenced Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau and Symbolism.
William Morris 1834-1896: English founder of the Arts and Crafts movement. His firm, founded in 1861, produced furniture, rugs, and wallpapers. "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
Russian: Fabergé and the Russian Jewels
Works by Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920), master jeweler to the Romanov Czars of Russia. His most famous pieces are the Imperial Easter Eggs created for Tsar Alexander III to give to his wife Maria Feodorovna from 1884 to 1916 under his title of "Supplier of the Imperial Court." When Nicolas II became tsar in 1896, he commissioned one for his wife, Alexandra, and one for his mother. In addition to the eggs he created masterpieces both functional and purely decorative in precious stones and metals. New Orleans Museum of Art
Although Tole is the French term for sheet metal, Tole decorative elements are also associated with English artisans. Tole ware, typically used for lanterns, chandeliers, sconces, bowls, boxes and cachepots, has been made in Europe and England since the late 18th Century. Tole pieces are typically painted black or a rich color such as golden yellow or dark red, then detailed or stenciled with a stylized motif. Tole pieces were popular in the early 19th century - the classically inspired Regency period in France and the Directoire era in France.
History of Wallpaper
Although the Chinese have been using rice paper on their walls for centuries, the earliest record we have of printed paper comes from 17th century France where prints were made with matching continuous patterns. In England, Cole & Son has been hand block printing papers for 200 years and can still match many original prints. Hand block printing offers more intense color, more depth and interesting imperfections. They use hand-carved wooden blocks and cotton rather than wood pulp paper to keep colors from fading or whites from yellowing. Each color is applied separately with a different block and dried. After up to 12 applications, the paper is varnished for protection. It takes about 3 weeks to produce 10 rolls.
In 1778 Louis XVI set the standard roll to be 10 meters or 33' which is still used. The original flocked wallpaper was made by stamping the paper with glue instead of ink. Wool fibers were then blown on to form the design.
Romanesque (English Norman) 11th and 12th Centuries
The first pronounced church building followed the end of the persecution of Christians in the fourth and fifth centuries. The original Basilica of St. Peter was built by Constantine around 330. The Romanesque style, i.e., based on Roman, emerges from roughly the 11th and 12th centuries. The arches were semicircular and the walls were thick and heavy with interior bays. The naves had stone vaults rather than wooden roofs. During this period there was a great expansion of building, they became larger and more "Roman." Their outsides were decorated with sculpture.
Gothic Cathedrals and Architecture 1150-1400
The period from 1150-1250 is often called the Age of the great Cathedrals. The arches become pointed giving the spaces a soaring lightness with ribbed vaulting, flying buttresses and steep roofs. The style started in France and spread, but by the 13th century, more regional styles emerged.
Renaissance 1400 to 1600
This was a period of great change including the fall of Constantinople, the journeys of exploration to the new world, and the reformation. Renaissance architecture draws on classical orders and design, repetition of elements and delicate carving. Brunelleschi, Filippo (1377-1446) started as a sculptor. In Rome he studied classical structures. By 1419 he was competing with Ghiberti to build the Florence Cathedral dome. The mere size made it an engineering feat. By building 2 separate shells he was able to eliminate weight and therefore, the trusswork. From this success he went on to design his own buildings.
Mannerism and Baroque 1600-1750
Robert Adam (1728-1792) was one of the great architects of Great Britain and ushered in the Neo-Classical. He was part of a family of architects that included his father, William Adam, and his brother, James Adam. He designed the interiors of some of the great houses and has a deserved reputation as an influential furniture designer.
Sir Edwin Lutyens 1869-1944: His designs for English country houses include hip and gable roofs and rustic stonework. They range from picturesque to Renaissance and Classical.
Bauhaus is the architectural school of Walter Gropius founded in Germany in 1919. It turned technology into art with the experimental use of metal and glass. The first major building, Adolf Sommerfeld's 1922 house in Berlin is filled with Expressionist details, carved banisters and zig-zag patterned walls. The object was to expose the beauty of the machine-built object. Le Corbusier 1887-1965: Swiss-born Le Corbusier (1887-1965) is one of the greatest architects of the 20th century.
Stonehenge, England's Oldest Tourist Attraction
On the chalk downs that form the Salisbury plain sits a brooding and massive stone monument that has often been misunderstood and frequently romanticized. Awe, grandeur, and mystery are words often used when describing Stonehenge.
It’s gigantic uprights and massive lintels loom from the dim mists of time and have fascinated us for thousands of years. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote in the 12th Century that Merlin, the great magician of Arthurian fame, accompanied Uther Pendragon to Ireland where, with his magic, he dismantled the Round stones that had been brought from Africa by giants. They were re-erected near present day Amesbury at the site of a great battle in which Britons under their rightful King Aurelius wrest control of their land back from the hated Saxons. Aurelius was said to be buried there after his death, as was likewise Uther when his time came.
The reality is something other. It is at once more prosaic and far more fascinating.
Stonehenge was not the first great building project in Wiltshire, nor was it the last. It is not the isolated phenomenon that it may seem. All over Europe, Stone Age people raised monuments of massive stones. The landscape of western Europe is dotted with megalithic structures known as menhirs. Burial mounds and stone cairns are scattered from the Orkneys to Malta. Many other, though not all, such construction has been lost to us because they were made of wood. It is impossible to say how many of these constructions were built since the ice receded and human culture returned to lands now free of ice and snow.
In the area near Stonehenge are found countless tombs, many dating to over 6,000 years ago. Some of these are long barrows, large funerary structures ringed with causeways and ranging up to 100 meters in length. Others are small round barrows centered in bowl shaped ditches. Other mysterious structures called cursuses are also to be found. Their use is unknown.
Henges are circular earthworks surrounded by a bank and a ditch. Some contained construction of wood such as at Woodhenge, others of stone. They are known throughout the British Isles, with concentrations in the Orkneys and Wessex. Stonehenge is easily the most famous.
The first known monument on the site of Stonehenge was built in about 2950 BCE. It consisted of the circular embankment, the ditch from which the dirt for the embankment was taken, and a ring of 56 holes today known as Aubrey Holes. The bank was cut in two places for entrance. It was undoubtedly used for religious purposes. It’s solar orientation is unmistakable.
Stonehenge was changed after about a half century. It appears that a wooden structure was added and the ditch partially filled. This phase lasted until about 2400BCE. During this time, the monument appears to have been used for cremation burials. The emphasis had changed.
As early as 2550 BCE, a new phase of construction at Stonehenge began. A circle of bluestones was erected. Over time, the circle of Sarsen stone that so defines Stonehenge as we know it were added, as were the Sarcen trilithons and the horseshoe setting of bluestone. By 1800 BCE, Stonehenge consisted of two stone circles and two horseshoes. The last construction, consisting of the Y and Z holes, may never have been completed.
History of Stonehenge
"Stonehenge was not the first great building project in Wiltshire, nor was it the last. It is not the isolated phenomenon that it may seem. All over Europe, Stone Age people raised monuments of massive stones. The landscape of western Europe is dotted with megalithic structures known as menhirs. Burial mounds and stone cairns are scattered from the Orkneys to Malta. Many other, though not all, such construction has been lost to us because they were made of wood."
Why Stonehenge was built and who built
it has been asked for centuries. Many of the explanations are as fanciful
as Geoffrey’s. The astronomical orientation of many of its features appear
to be quite obvious, but this has not always been recognized. Some have supposed
it belonged to the Romans. Vespasian built a camp a short distance away, but
It is clear to those who study Stonehenge with a scientific eye, that the prehistoric people of Britain possessed a greater knowledge of the heavens than they have been given credit for. Archeologists who also know astronomy have found celestial orientations for many ancient structures. Can Stonehenge be the greatest of these?
The history of Stonehenge starts with "the first known monument on the site of Stonehenge ... built in about 2950 BCE."
"On the chalk downs that form the Salisbury plain sits a brooding and massive stone monument that has often been misunderstood and frequently romanticized. Awe, grandeur, and mystery are words often used when describing Stonehenge."
"It’s gigantic uprights and massive lintels loom from the dim mists of time and have fascinated us for thousands of years. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote in the 12th Century that Merlin, the great magician of Arthurian fame, accompanied Uther Pendragon to Ireland where, with his magic, he dismantled the Round stones that had been brought from Africa by giants. They were re-erected near present day Amesbury at the site of a great battle in which Britons under their rightful King Aurelius wrest control of their land back from the hated Saxons. Aurelius was said to be buried there after his death, as was likewise Uther when his time came." Stonehenge written by Bruce Olsen of http://www.bruceolsen.com