Neo-Romanian style book cover

Neo-Romanian style book cover, early 1920s (photo ©Valentin Mandache)

The Neo-Romanian style, one of the many national-romantic artistic experiments that emerged in the later part of the c19th in Europe and elsewhere, was expressed not only in architectural creations, but also had interesting manifestations in other visual arts fields, such as sculpture, painting and graphic design. A telling example is the exquisite book cover presented above, embellishing a volume that gathers together writings by Nicolae Balcescu, one of the most prominent leaders of the the 1848 nationalist revolution that swept the Romanian principalities of that era. The publishing house is “Scrisul Romanesc” (The Romanian Letters/ Writing”), based in Craiova, in south western Romania. This Neo-Romanian graphic design, inspired from architectural shapes and motifs, is therefore more fittingly appropriate for a book containing that type of writings, published by a house with that name, in an epoch of intense national pride following Romania’s Great War suffering and achievements. The architectural theme depicted on the book cover originates from the Neo-Romanian decorative register, that in its turn recycles late medieval Wallachian (also known as Brancovan) church architectural elements such as the rope motif represented on the column shafts or encircling the whole design field in an abstract rectangular-like configuration. The Byzantine type arch spanning the columns is decorated by an intricate latticework motif that is a medieval Armenian and Georgian influence in Romanian arts, also adopted within the decorative register of the Neo-Romanian style. I very much like the blue colour used by the graphic designer, which is specific for church and peasant house decoration in north-eastern Romania, in the province of Moldavia and adjacent areas of Wallachia, also found in Ukraine and further afield in Russia, thus also making the design a fascinating assembly of motifs found throughout the region where Romania is located.

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

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