Classical Eclecticism

Beaux-Arts, Neo-Renaissance, Chateauesque, and Neoclassical Revival. Yes, Classical Eclecticism is all four rolled up into a bun.

Rejecting High Victorian picturesque irregularity, polychrome, and loose borrowings from and interpretations of the past, Classical Eclecticism seeks to restore order, unity, and restraint to architecture and interiors.

Beaux-Arts: aspires to emulate the classical traditions of ancient Rome, the Italian Renaissance, the Baroque, and 17th/18th century France. Examples are exuberant and highly embellished. Symmetry, five-part facades with central emphasis, rusticated ground stories, smooth upper stories, dramatic rooflines, and grand staircases sum up this movement.

Neo-Renaissance: emulates Italian 16th century palaces and villas. Late structures are larger in scale and more strongly identified with the originals. Characteristics: block forms, rusticated lower stories, arched openings, quoins, and low or flat roofs.

Chateauesque: derives from Richard Morris Hunt who sketches numerous French Chateaux. Vertical and picturesque, the style features asymmetry, smooth stone walls, tower or turrets, pointed openings, tracery, roof dormers, and steeply pitched roofs.

Neoclassical Revival: emulates either Neoclassical prototypes or the Grecian idiom in the spirit of Greek Revival. It is a quieter alternative to the more embellished and baroque Beaux-Arts and Neo-Revival. It shows symmetry, Greek orders, rusticated basements, smooth upper stories, flat roofs, balanced rhythm, and limited ornament.

Now I know this all sounds confusing….But hopefully the below pictures will be a boost into helping you understand the differences.

1. Furniture is often large in scale, formal, majestic, and carved. Think Brad Pitt. Many public and private rooms feature antique and reproduction furniture that follows French Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, Italian Renaissance, and Venetian Baroque.
2. In private rooms, styles in a more human scale, such as Rococo, are fashionable.
3. Suites of furniture are common, although some rooms may mix a variety of styles for a more individual look.
4. Often supplied by decorating firms, furniture in homes of the affluent may be designed specifically for the room it occupies.
5. Decorative techniques include ebonizing, inlay, carving, gilding, and painting.
6. A variety of upholstery fabrics adds color and pattern.
7. Classical Eclecticism shows rise of the antique trade. Antique dealers and art gallery owners often give suggestions to interior decor.

Motifs and Symbols:
Beaux Arts: swags, acanthus leaves, cartouches, figural and relief sculpture, flowers, cherubs, shells, c and s scrolls, and wreaths.
Neo-Renaissance: egg and dart, bead, and dentil moldings, cartouches, roundels, and classical motifs such as pilasters, lintels and stringcourses.
Chateauesque: tracery, pointed arches, pinnacles, fireplace hood moldings, floral panels, griffins, and gargoyles.
Neoclassical Revival: egg and dart, bead, and dentil moldings, triglyphs and metopes, cartouches, honeysuckles, anthemonions, acanthus leaves, the fret and key, swags, lyres, vases, drapery, and classical figures.

Decorative Arts:
The wealthy display their collections of art of sculpture in special galleries or in important rooms in residences. Large mirrors with lavishly embellished and gilded frames are common. Gigantic floral arrangements highlight the entry hall and drawing rooms. Also elaborate cut glass, porcelain, and silver and brass pieces are displayed.

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