Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Green / Malachite...

Following on from yesterday's post about blue things and lapis lazuli, I thought I would carry on the theme of minerals and design by delving into the history of Malachite.

Malachite (Copper Carbonate Hydroxide), derives its name from the Greek Μολοχίτης λίθος molochitis lithos, "mallow-green stone". The mineral was given this name due to its resemblance to the leaves of the Mallow plant:

Like Lapis Lazuli, Malachite was used as a mineral pigment in paints from antiquity until about 1800.

Above: Madonna and Child by Carlo Crivelli. Note the green pigments

It became very fashionable as a stone for decorative work in the 17-18th centuries...

The desk above in the state music room at Chatsworth was a gift from Tsar Nicolas I to the Duke of Devonshire. Other items which were fashionable were clocks...

and vases...

The Malachite Room of the Winter Palace, designed by the architect Alexander Briullov in the late 1830s was used as an official drawing-room of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, wife of Nicholas I.

The Winter Palace in St Petersburg, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian Tsars. Situated between the palace embankment and the palace square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and altered almost continuously between the late 1730s and 1837, when it was severely damaged by fire and immediately rebuilt. The storming of the palace in 1917 became an iconic symbol of the Russian Revolution and the downfall of the House of Romanov. Today, the restored palace forms part of the complex of buildings housing the Hermitage Museum.

The unique embellishment of the room includes columns, pilasters, fire-place trimmings and decorative vases - all made of malachite in the "Russian mosaic" technique. The interior looks particularly impressive due to the combination of bright green of the stone, rich gilding and saturated crimson of the hangings. The big covered malachite vase (below) and the furniture produced in the workshop of Peter Gambs from sketches by Auguste de Montferrand were saved during the fire of 1837. They had been part of the interior of the Jasper Reception Room that existed here before the fire.

The house of Romanov had a very close connection to Carl Faberge, being his most important patron. Faberge was an unsurpassed craftsman and jeweler, bringing gems and minerals together with gold to create vases, eggs, frames and many other items of beauty. He loved malachite, creating frames and clocks like the ones below...

Faberge is a post in himself, but check out the House of Faberge website for a good biography and further examples of his work.

The green and gold colour cheme of Malachite still inspires designers in contemporary ways...

Again, Bisazza, offers an amazing range of mosaic tiles. Their work is truly exceptional.

The picture of this Malachite vanity was found at Decor Dallas

The bath below is available here

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blue Pools, Bathrooms, Mosaics and more...

Inspired by a few days of sun, I thought I would write a post about pools and tiles, which turned into bloggorhoea about blue things. We are contemplating whether or not to have a pool at Willowbrook. We currently have an outside pool, but seldom use it due to it being unheated. Despite the lack of use, however, we still have to constantly maintain it. Therefore if we did have a pool, it would have to be a heated, indoor pool. There are some outdoor pools I love...

Above: The pool at Versace's house in Miami
Below: Rob Lowe's house and pool.

Above: A formal pool in a terraced setting
Below: Examples of of mosaic tiling...

Below: A shot of Versace's pool from above showing the tiling

Now for some stunning indoor pools...

Above: The pool at The Ritz

Above and Below: Stunning cobalt blues and mosaic work.

Check out Architect Design's post on this pool at San Simeon here.

The blue and gold colours remind me of lapis lazuli. Lapis lazuli is a rock, made of various mineral constituents. The main component of lapis lazuli is lazurite (25% to 40%), a feldspar silicate mineral. Other constituents include calcite (white), sodalite (blue), and pyrite (metallic gold).

Lapis lazuli has been mined in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan for over 6,000 years, and trade in the stone is ancient enough for lapis jewelry to have been found at Pre-dynastic Egyptian sites. At excavations in the ancient centers of culture around the Mediterranean, archaeologists have found decorative chains and figures made of lapis lazuli among the grave furnishings. Countless signet rings, scarabs and figures were wrought from the blue stone which Alexander the Great brought to Europe.

For many years - until synthetic pigment was made - lapis lazuli was ground to a powder and combined with binding agents to make the brilliant aquamarine blue found in Old Masters paintings.

Unlike other pigments, it does not fade in light - in many museums, it is the one paint colour which still shines through.

The death mask of king Tutankhamun's (1341 BC – 1323 BC) was created from gold and precious stones, including lapis lazuli. The mask has symbolic significance; Tutankhamun's beard and headcloth were symbols of his royalty; the cobra on this forehead was protective, its role being to spit poison at enemies of the Pharoah; lapis lazuli was also believed to have powers of protection.

Lapis Lazuli became fashionable in the 18-19th centuries for use in interior decoration and the arts...

It also makes a stunning cabinet top, and could be suitable for a bathroom at Willowbrook:

Other bathroom ideas inspired by blue tiles and mosaics...

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Dovecote...

A dovecot(e) is a building intended to house doves or pigeons. They have been made in a variety of shapes and styles over the centuries, but generally contain multiple pigeon holes for doves to nest in.

Pigeons and doves were an important food source historically in Europe and were kept for their eggs, flesh, and guano. In the Middle Ages, the possession of a dovecote was a symbol of status and power and was consequently regulated by law. Only nobles had this special privilege known as droit de colombier.

Above: A medieval example of dovecots, from an illuminated manuscript.

The oldest dovecotes are thought to have been the fortified dovecotes of Upper Egypt, and the domed dovecotes of Iran. The presence of dovecotes is not noted in France before the Roman invasion of Gaul by Caesar. Dovecotes were a passion in Rome:. They were known as columbaria (from the Latin for pigeon / dove). They were round, and their interiors were covered with a white coating of marble powder. Varro and Pliny the Elder wrote works on pigeon farms and dovecote construction.

At the time of the Roman Republic the internal design of the banks of pigeonholes was adapted for the purpose of disposing of cremated ashes after death.

Above: The interior of a medieval dovecote
Below: 2 Examples of early dovecotes

Above and below: The dovecote at Nymans Gardens, West Sussex, England.

Today most Dovecots are made to stand on poles, many being purely ornamental...

When people think of doves, they usually imagine the small white dives that are released at weddings, or associated with peace. Doves and pigeons (both members of the columbidae family, the only difference being size and colouring) are a genus of bird with very many species and varieties.

Above: A White Dove
Below: A Laughing Dove

We have a White wooden dovecote on our current property, which I am going to restore and repaint (with a pale grey/blue roof to match the obelisks in the potager beds) and install in the potager garden.

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