Neo-Romanian tower ceiling decoration: peasant cosmogony

The following images are from the Minovici museum, also knonw as Mina Minovici villa, in Baneasa – Herastrau area of Bucharest, which is one of the most iconic Neo-Romanian style edificies, erected in 1905 – ’06 after the plans of architect Cristofi Cerkez, to house the Romanian ethnographic art collection of dr. Nicolae Miovici, the first national art museum in the country. What drew my attention was the amply decorated ceiling of its imposing tower, a rare occurrence for this architectural order. It is clearly inspired from the late medieval Wallachian, also known as Brancovan, church decoration, such as that which I documented at Stavropoleos church. It is a cosmogonic composition, depicting the celestial universe, with its constellations seen in the yellow colour vines and leaves curling intricately around small red buds signifying the diverse worlds and flowers with red stamen and yellow petals signifying the burning asters, where the Sun, the largest flower, is at the centre of the cosmos. The decoration is thus an excellent rendering of the Romanian peasant cosmogonic belief system, expressed in legends and ballads such as the well known Miorita, which I can say with a high degree of expectation that is architecturally rendered in this wonderful painted ceiling.

Neo-Romanian tower ceiling decoration signifying the cosmos with the Sun at its centre, Minovici villa, arch. Cristofi Cherkez 1905 - '06, Baneasa - Herstrau area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Neo-Romanian tower ceiling decoration, Minovici villa, arch. Cristofi Cherkez 1905 - '06, Baneasa - Herstrau area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Minovici villa, arch. Cristofi Cherkez 1905 - '06, Baneasa - Herstrau area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavour through this series of periodic 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 or selling a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing and transacting the property, specialist research, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

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