Italian Renaissance, Revival

Italianate and Renaissance Revival of the 19th century look back to the Renaissance, the rebirth of interest in classical antiquity that appears first in Italian literature, and then in culture and art in the 14th century. The Italian Renaissance offers new inspiration for designers, who are weary of the Neoclassical columns and porticoes and are searching for a richer, more plastic alternative to the spare Greek Revival.

Design Characteristics:
Although both are derived from Italian models, Italianate is asymmetrical and picturesque, whereas Renaissance Revival is classical, symmetrical, and refined. Both have associations of Italian culture and sophistication in design. As an outgrowth of a search for alternatives to classicism and Gothic, the Italianate or Italian Villa style originates in England with John Cronkhill in 1802. Evoking images of Italian vernacular buildings, Cronkhill’s picturesque forms highlight an asymmetry in which additions are added where needed with little thought to symmetry or overall design.

1. Types: gentlemen’s clubs, offices, department stores, warehouses, mills, factories, post offices, custom houses, city halls, train stations, and theaters.
2. Most buildings occupy large portions of a city block and seldom are a part of a city plan. They look like large rectangular blocks with no protrusions such as porches or entryways.
3. Floor Plans follow Barry’s Plan: from the Reform Club in London it has symmetry and an open central courtyard.
4. Facades resemble Italian High Renaissance palaces.
5. The most important floor of the building is the largest, with successive stories the room height diminishes.
6. Windows may diminish in size on each story and have simpler treatments on successive stories.
7. Doors are often made of paneled wood and centered on the main facade.
8. Roofs are flat or low pitched.

Below are some examples of Italian Renaissance Revival architecture.

Renaissance Revival furniture gains popularity in nearly all European countries and North America beginning in the 1860’s. Each country interprets the style in light of its own past. Massive proportions, an irregular silhouette, architectural motifs, opulence, and Baroque motifs are common.
1. Types: Sideboards, Pedestals, Easels, Wall Pockets, and Hanging Cabinets.
2. Features: uneven outline, competing elements instead of a unified whole, heavy cresting often in the form of a pediment, tapered legs, and carved ornament.
3. seating comes in sets and shows great variety in form and details

Symbols and Motifs!
Classical motifs in architecture and interiors include pediments, stringcourses, quoins, hood moldings, brackets, columns on porches or verandas, swags, acanthus, arabesques, and round arches. Additional motifs for interiors and furniture are fruit, game, animals, masks, strapwork, Greek Key, sphinxes, lotus blossums, palmettes, urns, roundels, cabochons, pendants, and applied bosses or lozenges.

Decorative Arts!
Classical figures, busts, and urns stand on pedestals, mantels and in niches in Renaissance Revival interiors. Pictures are important. Glass and porcelain objects may decorate mantels and tables. Large mirrors hang over fireplaces or between windows. Also common: wall pockets, hanging cabinets, and canterburies to hold magazines.

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