Neo-Romanian style tree of life as birthday card

Neo-Romanian style tree of life, mid-1930s house, Icoanei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Two close members of my family celebrate their birthday in the second part of August. I thought that a fitting card for this beautiful occasion would be one of my architectural photographs depicting a remarkable rendering in the Neo-Romanian style of the tree of life motif. The card which I sent to my relatives contains the image presented above, where the tree of life is embodied by the flamboyantly decorated staircase window on the right. It depicts the origins of life represented by the three grains (holy trinity) at the base of the flower pot in the lower register, and then the springing up of life in waves of vine branches and grapes. The continuity and diverse events of life are rendered on the vertical sides of the wall opening, everything culminating in paradise, seen in the pair of majestic peacocks feeding from a grape in a cup supported by a cross symbol, grouped in the upper register. The window opening is occupied by a circular reticulation panel, which can be interpreted as the trunk of a tree: a palm tree perhaps, that has biblical connotations, or a rendering of  a medieval church window glazed with circular panes of blown glass. The opening is bordered by a beautiful rope, a ubiquitous motif in Romanian church architecture and peasant art. The top of the window is of broken arch type, typical of the Brancovan churches of the c18th in Wallachia, which is a motif borrowed from the Islamic architecture of the Ottoman Balkans.

I found during my fieldwork in Bucharest four such exquisite Neo-Romanian style three of life windows embellishing buildings erected in the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s. One of them, in many ways similar with the one shown in this article, can be seen and read about at this link: Magnificent Neo-Romanian style “Tree of Life” panel. Another such window decorates Prince Nicolae Villa in Cotroceni, which unfortunately is now badly damaged in botched renovation works perpetrated by uncultured contemporary Romanian proprietors.

Neo-Romanian Style Tree of Life & Garden of Eden Panel

Neo-Romanian style tree of life and house name decorative panel dating from mid 1930s, Nerva Traian area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

This decorative panel embellishes the street wall of a Bucharest mid-1930s Neo-Romanian style house. It contains the representations of the tree of life and the Garden of Eden, both symbolised by grape vine plants, inspired from the decorative panoply of the late medieval Wallachian church architecture. The three of life springs up from the base of the panel in waves of leaves symbolising cycles and pivotal moments in life, while on the Garden of Eden sector contains a grape fruit symbolising abundance surrounded by vine leaves that serenely fill the space in all directions. The pairs of peacocks on both panel sectors are representations of peace and harmony and an allusion to the couple that built and made that house their home. I very much like the simple rectangular geometry of the panel sectors and the highly abstract symbols contained within them, which together with the style of the letter rendering of “Vila Maria”, the name of the house, point toward influences from the Art Deco and Modernist styles, very much in vogue in the Bucharest of that period.

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

I endeavor through this daily series of daily articles 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 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.

Art Deco Window & Tree of Life Neo-Romanian Panel

Art Deco window & tree of life Neo-Romanian ornamental panel adorning a late 1920s house in Gara de Nord area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The image above shows a telling example of Art Deco – Neo-Romanian syncretism of styles often encountered on the Romanian architectural scene in the period spanning between late 1920s and 1930s. The window openings and panes are designed in an Art Deco manner, while at its centre is a narrow Neo-Romanian style ornamental panel depicting a gracious tree of life symbol. This is a representation of the grapevine plant, a Neo-Romanian motif that originates in the late medieval Wallachian church decoration register. The tree of life rises up in leaf waves from a flower pot that resembles a traditional Romanian peasant pottery example, surmounted by birds flying in ascending spirals along its upright stem toward the Sun, the generator of life and energy, symbolised in this instance by a sunflower flower.

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

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.

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

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.