Bucharest 1870s mascaron

Bucharest 1870s mascaron (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a window apron mascaron, from among a dozen or so that embellish the street façade of painter Gheroghe Tattarescu’s museum in central Bucharest, close to Lipscani, the commercial quarter of the city. Tattarescu is one of the best painters of the first “European” generation of Romanian artists in the mid 1850s, when this region was slowly escaping from the obit of the Ottoman Empire and its cultural models. The painter renovated the house in the late 1850s, resulting in an interesting transition phase between Ottoman and early Little Paris style edifice. My supposition is that this set of mascarons are a later addition, dating from the 1870s, perhaps even later in the 1880s, as I encountered similar types on other Bucharest houses built in that period. This ornament is ceramic (probably terracotta) made and not a stucco application as one might expect. It is also well preserved, on account that the city had throughout the last century and a half much less industrial pollution than other European capitals. Another dating clue could be the hairstyle and pearl necklace of the woman represented at its centre, which to me looks somehow Second Empire style (between 1865 – 1880). In all, the mascaron, is an interesting and beautiful sight on the historic façades of Romania’s capital.

The Mascarons of Bucharest: Photomontage and Slides

The mascarons of Bucharest: photomontage (©Valentin Mandache)

The architecture of Bucharest in the late c19th until the Great War was constituted in great part of locally interpreted French historicist styles that ranged from neoclassical, neo-renaissance, neo-rococo to Second Empire, which gave the Romanian capital the well known character of “Little Paris”. Some of the most conspicuous motifs of these highly decorative styles were the mascarons (grotesque or classical mithology-like ornamental heads) that embellished the top centre panoplies above windows, doorways or roof cornices. Bucharest is endowed literally with thousands of such picturesque mascarons that are also present less abundantly on Art Nouveau, Neo-Romanian and Art Deco style buildings. I made the collage and slide show presented in this post from just a very small sample of such Bucharest mascarons. Most of them are “Little Paris” style, but there are also some Art Nouveau, Neo-Romanian and Art Deco. There is also a living “mascaron”‘ among the masonry and plaster ones, I wonder if you can spot it! :)

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Image 28-Jan-10: Art Nouveau Style Mascarons

An exquisite floral theme pair of Art Nouveau style mascarons adorning a grand house built in the early 1900s, in the same architectural style. Icoanei area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.