Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Winter Palace and the Baroque style

The baroque style began aound 1600 in Italy and then branched off into the rest of Europe. Baroque encompasses extravigance, grandure and opulance. It is a style to show off wealth. Rooms and draped with beautiful rich coloured fabrics and the architecture features sweeping shapes and detailed mouldings and sculpture. The furnature is also carved and decorated with shapes, creatues and flowers. Each room was a new way of displaying extravigance. Some accessories that are usually found within a baroque room could be displays of coins, shells, medals and precious stone. Ceramics and orniments from the far east or of oriental origins became very fashionable in the 19th century.

Ivan Ilych was a magistrate during the later half of the 9th century. He was a social climber who though could not be classed as aristocrasy had a need to show his opulence through his property and his belongings even though his salery of 500 rubels did not necessarily lead to this. He designed and organised the interior of his home once he moved in with his family. The tables, the chairs and their upholstory, the drapes (which when hanging he fell and resulted in his eventual faital injury). Certain features of the rooms are mentioned many times in the book giving us a reference even to the fabrics that Ivan specifically chose for the decor. His house contained many dark woods, damasks, plants and bronzes. One room had an array of Japanese plates upon the wall. Ivan always prefered antiques so much of his furnature were antiques he sourced from cheaper dealers. Many of his rooms including the drawing room are upholstered in pink cretonne (photograph: sourced from

The prime example of Baroque interior design in Russian was The Winter Palace in St Petersberg. Though this is the ultimate example of wealth and opulence it would have been the inspiration for the social climbers such as Ivan. Even though his house was considerably smaller than the palace he most likely would have taken design inspiration from it to achieve his required appearance of aristocracy.
These water colours of the Winter Palace painted in the 18th century by Konstantin Ukhtomsky sourced from ( )

The paintings show the colours the fabrics and details required in a Baroque room. The drapes that are edged with braid and tassels. The ceilings that are classically painted or layered with pleated fabric. The femanine tones of pink and the floral garland carpets and rich stone tiled floors. Drapery was very important the more draped fabric within the design the richer the room appears hence why the curtains are layered and undulated.

here are some studies from my sketchbook of various pieces of baroque furniture looking into the details and designs.

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