Bucharest 1903 Vernacular Exterior Decoration

Bucharest vernacular fin de siècle exterior decoration; Icoanei area. (©Valentin Mandache)

Fin de siècle Bucharest was in many aspects a patriarchal, at peace with itself place located at the triple periphery of the Ottoman, Russian and Austrian-Hungarian empires. Its architecture had a pronounced vernacular character borrowing motifs from both Western and Oriental traditions and imitating in a creative rusticated way the decorative registers of the few prestigious  private houses and public edifices designed by the handful of professional architects active then in the country. I found the example presented in the image above expressing wonderfully the vernacular architecture prevalent in fin de siècle Bucharest. It embellishes the expanse above the doorway of a wagon type house in Icoanei area and gathers together western inspired decorative motifs such as the pair of cornucopia with undulating ribbons flanking the monogram of the first house owner, rendered in a naive Art Nouveau type lettering, and also motifs inspired from Ottoman Balkan architecture such as the rope motif frieze and the intricately worked wooden supports of the roof eave placed at regular intervals. In all the impression conveyed is one of serene bucolic ambiance peculiar to a long bygone age in this corner of Europe.

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

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