Art Deco glass etching – mountain goddess subject

Art Deco style glass etching, part of a staircase tower window of a late 1930s apartment house in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This glass etching is a nice discovery made during last Sunday’s walking architectural tour in Mantuleasa quarter of Bucharest, when I entered, together with the participants, the hallway of a small and well designed Art Deco apartment house (in the shape of an abstract ocean liner). My intention was to show the tour party how a typical Art Deco stair spiral looks and how the light is filtered through the patterns of the large window that usually embellishes the staircase tower of such edifices. The etching, spotted first by Gabriela, one of the participants, was not part of the main window, but placed on another side of the tower at the staircase base, probably to increase the amount of natural light available in that confined space. The subject of this piece of art, signed by Studio N.I.C.O., as seen on the lower right hand corner, and its rendering are just wonderful, depicting a mountain landscape having at its centre a human shape forest deity (perhaps Diana, the goddess of wild animals and woodlands) flanked by two delicate hinds, all surrounded by an alpine landscape (perhaps that of the Transylvanian Alps to the north of Bucharest) with the sky dominated by a few glowing solar motifs and round clouds. The manner of representation, especially that of the human-like personage, reminds me of how Henri Matisse designed his subjects, as is most tellingly seen in The Dance, one of his most well known painting. Matisse was of course widely admired in Romania of that era, even more so after he produced the painting La Blouse Roumaine, a young female wearing an embroidered  Romanian peasant shirt. I am just amazed how this fragile etching, that is still in excellent condition, has survived so many vicissitudes that befell the city in the last eighty years, from wars, devastating earthquakes to dictatorships.

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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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