Church royal chair featuring King Ferdinand’s cypher

Church royal chair with King Ferdinand’s cypher, Mantuleasa church, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

A number of Romanian orthodox rite historic churches in Bucharest and other places of importance throughout Romania contain ceremonial chairs, named “thrones”, dating mostly from the period of the Hohenzollern – Sigmaringen dynasty (1866-1947) destined for the use of the metropolitan/ patriarch and of the chief of state who at one time or another visited, consecrated or re-consecrated that building. The chair destined for the sovereign (there were two chairs if he was accompanied by his spouse) usually displays the cypher of the crowned head who first visited the building, assisted or gave his blessing to those important ceremonies, sometimes also containing other hallmarks of Romanian royalty, such as the crown or coat of arms. A royal or princely cypher is a monogram of the reigning ruler, formally approved and used on official documents or displayed on public buildings and other objects of public use or owned by the state, such as postal boxes or military vehicles, etc.

The image above shows an interesting example of a royal chair from Mantuleasa church in Bucharest (a beautiful Brancovan style monument, restored in 1924 – ’30, in the reign of King Ferdinand and his descendant, King Carol II), photographed during a recent Historic Houses of Romania tour in that area. The chair displays Ferdinand’s cypher, a stylised back-to-back double “F”, as he was the monarch who officially inaugurated the restoration works. On top of chair’s back there is also an interesting representation of Romania’s state crown, the famous steel crown made from the melted metal of a canon captured in the 1877 Independence War. The whole assembly is rendered in the mature phase Neo-Romanian style, with ethnographic solar discs and acanthus/ vine leave carvings, constituting an interesting ceremonial furniture example expressed in the national design style. King Ferdinand’s cypher is a rare sight nowadays, the chair presented here bringing back memories of this remarkable sovereign, who strove all his life to keep a reserved and dignified public profile.

Church royal chair featuring King Ferdinand’s cypher

Church royal chair with King Ferdinand’s cypher, Mantuleasa church, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

A number of Romanian orthodox rite historic churches in Bucharest and other places of importance throughout Romania contain ceremonial chairs, named “thrones”, dating mostly from the period of the Hohenzollern – Sigmaringen dynasty (1866-1947) destined for the use of the metropolitan/ patriarch and of the chief of state who at one time or another visited, consecrated or re-consecrated that building. The chair destined for the sovereign (there were two chairs if he was accompanied by his spouse) usually displays the cypher of the crowned head who first visited the building, assisted or gave his blessing to those important ceremonies, sometimes also containing other hallmarks of Romanian royalty, such as the crown or coat of arms. A royal or princely cypher is a monogram of the reigning ruler, formally approved and used on official documents or displayed on public buildings and other objects of public use or owned by the state, such as postal boxes or military vehicles, etc.

The image above shows an interesting example of a royal chair from Mantuleasa church in Bucharest (a beautiful Brancovan style monument, restored in 1924 – ’30, in the reign of King Ferdinand and his descendant, King Carol II), photographed during a recent Historic Houses of Romania tour in that area. The chair displays Ferdinand’s cypher, a stylised back-to-back double “F”, as he was the monarch who officially inaugurated the restoration works. On top of chair’s back there is also an interesting representation of Romania’s state crown, the famous steel crown made from the melted metal of a canon captured in the 1877 Independence War. The whole assembly is rendered in the mature phase Neo-Romanian style, with ethnographic solar discs and acanthus/ vine leave carvings, constituting an interesting ceremonial furniture example expressed in the national design style. King Ferdinand’s cypher is a rare sight nowadays, the chair presented here bringing back memories of this remarkable sovereign, who strove all his life to keep a reserved and dignified public profile.

Images from last week end’s architectural tours (“The Mature Neoromanian Style” & “Mantuleasa Quarter”)

Saturday 3 December '11: The mature Neo-Romanian style architectural tour (©Valentin Mandache)

Sunday 4 December '11: Mantuleasa quarter architectural tour (©Valentin Mandache)

This week’s tours, at which you are kindly invited to participate, are the following: a thematic architectural tour on Saturday 10 Dec. ’11 (13.00h – 15.00) entitled “The Art Deco and Modernist Bucharest” and an area one on Sunday 11 Dec. ’11 (10.30h – 13.30h) in Bucharest’s Dacia quarter. I will post detailed announcements in the next couple of days.

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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.

Art Deco gateway

This is an interesting example for Bucharest of an Art Deco style gateway that has obviously seen better days compared with the contemporary aesthetic injuries perpetrated by the ugly multitude of gas pipes blighting the casual observer’s vision and perennial lack of maintenance that it has suffered throughout the last six and a half decades since the end of the Second World War. The gateway consists of a rectangular archway with a chunky receding ends transverse bar, decorated with an apparent keystone formed from three vertical blades arranged in ziggurat fashion, and a wrought iron gate that fills in the entire arch opening. Three identical monograms of a crisp Art Deco design adorn each sector of the gate (see second photograph bellow).

Art Deco gateway, mid-1930s property, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco gateway, mid-1930s property, Mantuleasa 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.

***********************************************

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.

Images from last Sunday’s architectural photo-tour in Mantuleasa historic quarter, Bucharest

Bucharest's Mantuleasa quarter amazing potpourri of architectural styles. Images from last Sunday's architectural photography tour. (©Valentin Mandache)

Last Sunday, 12 June ’11, I organised a second architectural photography tour in Bucharest, this time in Mantuleasa historic quarter. The area is mostly residential and endowed with a very diverse and exuberant period architecture ranging from beautiful Brancovan style churches dating from the late c17th to picturesque French c19th historicist and Art Nouveau architecture to flamboyant inter-war Neo-Romanian and slender Art Deco and International Modernist style dwellings, all within the space of probably less than one square kilometre. A very small sample of the architectural photographs shot during that tour are presented in the above montage. The architectural mix of Mantuleasa, although is apparently exhilaratingly chaotic, it nevertheless follows certain unwritten trends that render its architectural and social history discernible to the visitor. I trust that under my expert guidance :), the participants at the tour have thus discovered some of the more intricate architectural puzzles of this fascinating corner of Bucharest, shot excellent architectural photographs and had a nice day out!

The next Sunday (19 June ’11, 9am-12.00) architectural photography tour will take place in Carol Park historic quarter, south central Bucharest (see a map at this link); meeting point: Tineretului tube station (outside southern exit, toward Tineretului Park). I look forward to seeing you there and go exploring this more than fascinating city corner!

The 12 June '11 architectural photography tour in Mantuleasa historic quarter, Bucharest (photo: arch Daniela Puia)

The 12 June '11 architectural photography tour in Mantuleasa historic quarter, Bucharest (photo: arch Daniela Puia)

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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.

***********************************************

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.

The dancing Art Nouveau style graces of Mantuleasa quarter

This post is a teaser for tomorrow’s photography architectural tour in the Mantuleasa historic quarter of Bucharest at which you are all invited (meeting point in front of Bucharest Tourist Information office from within the University Subway area between 8.45am and 9.00am. The tour will take place between 9am and 12.00 and costs 35 lei (Romanian currency) each.

Bellow are two interesting Art Noveau style basrelief panels dating from the 1890s representing scenes with dancing graces, inspired from ancient Greek and Roman mythology, located in Mantuleasa area of Bucharest. The dancing graces motif was frequently encountered in Art Nouveau visual arts compositions, being promoted by greats such as the actress Sarah Bernhard, the painter Alphonse Mucha, so important for the Art Nouveau current, who used the beautiful Sarah Bernhard as his model, or the dramatist Edmond Rostand to cite just a few.

The panels presented here were produced, in my opinion, as a direct consequence of Sarah Bernhardt’s presence in the mid 1890s Bucharest when she and her theatre company performed widely acclaimed plays at the National Theatre that comprised dancing graces scenes and also because of the popularity of Edmond Rostand’s writings among the high society of Bucharest who at parties and gatherings in their palaces acted in his plays, clad in fairy costumes similar with those presented in these architectural panels. Even the then Queen Elizabeth of Romania and Marie, the Crown Princess, were known to have acted at the Royal Palace in such plays by Rostand.

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The panel above shows a group of dancing graces, accompanied by music from a flute and tambourine in a scene imagined from the ancient classical mythology (dionysiac mysteries if we judge after the grape fruit used as headdresses or some kind of harvest festival).

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The second Mantuleasa dancing graces panel presents a group of teenage looking female personages, holding each other and also carelessly revelling, accompanied by a Greek flute (syrinx) and tambourine, which somehow reminds me of the dionysiac initiation misteries from the great fresco at the Villa of the Misteries in Pompeii. I like the grace standing alone on the left hand side of the panel, which holds in her hand an open papyrus scroll, a personification Calliope, the muse of poetry, perhaps.

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The photograph above shows the house hosting the two Art Nouveau style dancing graces panels from the Mantuleasa quarter of Bucharest. The overall architectural style of the house is a modest Beaux Arts, which is greatly enhanced by those wonderful basreliefs, constituting a reminder of the wonderful and creative years experienced by this city during the Fin de Siécle period.

***********************************************

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.

***********************************************

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.