Renaissance Home Decorating & Decor
The matter of integrating Italian Renaissance furniture and decor accents and accessories into modern homes is somewhat problematic if we realise that originally such items were made for princes to decorate palaces in which life was lived more or less as a pageant and at fabulous cost. Homes of modern times can be made attractive by using this squarely built style in certain rooms, but we may have to admit that we are merely faintly echoing the shape and decorative designs of authentic antique Renaissance style.
The Italian Renaissance was the most gorgeous of all recorded periods of decorative house furnishing. Then the artistic genius of the most artistic of all countries, Italy, at the time was devoted to the sumptuous furnishing and decorating of palaces and the magnificent costuming of the nobility. The average man had only the most crude necessities with which to make his home liveable.
There were two reasons for the type of decorative furnishing which stamp this period in Italy as unique (as the Renaissance in France and in England was not the same in detail of expression). In the 16th century there was a great revival of interest in the literature and the art of ancient Greece and Roman interest increased by the unearthing of long-buried cities. Frescoes on walls showed the type of house furnishings and decor used, at least in outline, and very great artists took these ideas and created the Italian Renaissance type of shape and decoration.
At the same time trade with India, Persia and Turkey increased and products from these countries poured into Italy and other European countries. Materials of Eastern weaves and dyes, gold and silver gauzes, silk damasks, gleaming and blazing with gem-like purples and crimsons and sapphire blues. We even hear of pearls and other precious stones woven into materials on handlooms.
Decorating Walls & Ceilings
Discoveries of the stuccoes of ancient Rome led to Italian architects to emulate their forebears and Roman and Greek mural work was generally adopted. Ground colors were laid on while the stucco was wet. Raphael and his followers applied themselves to wall decoration. Superb friezes and panels, the best the world has ever seen, were the result. Both wainscoting and rich tapestries, leathers, gold and silk fabrics were liberally used in all the phases of the Renaissance. Marbleized paper called "domino" was made in Italy during the fifteenth Century in small squares and used on walls.
The interior woodwork of the period was noteworthy. Italian walnut was much used, carved, paneled, and sometimes ornamented with gilding and gesso. The ceilings were vaulted and coffered. The walls were usually hung with fabrics, above a paneled wainscot. There were rich brocades and Genoese velvets, softer and richer than the glaring colors of the Gothic period, and also stamped and gilded leather. In the sixteenth century the famous Renaissance tapestries came into use.