In the world there are a lot of architectural styles, and for each person there is an architectural style to your liking, doing a repair of the facade of your house, you can always stylize it for a specific architectural style.
The architectural style of the story is not one generation, it manifests itself in the functionality and artistic component. Style combines the realized needs depending on the climatic conditions of the structure, as well as on technical and cultural factors. From the passage of time and technical development of a person depends on the style of the structure, but often there were cases when different styles were simultaneously used, such as baroque with classicism, modern with eclecticism, etc.
Sometimes the style is difficult to define, but it does not mean that it does not exist, in each facade one can find notes of the ethnos of one of the peoples. Architectural elements of facades are often the determining factors that allow not only to define the style but also to understand the culture and even the character of the owner of the house. In general, we can distinguish three main characters of the style – a religious one that does not conform to the national doctrine (these styles were founded in the period from 1762 to 1840), and the newest styles. But if you look in order, then the chronology will be the following, first there was the protoarchitecture (the ancient Greeks), then the Renaissance style (Western European art style), Gothic (one of the most spectacular architectural styles), the revival (the period in which architecture reached its peak), Baroque (the style that is extensively used today), the Rocco (exquisite French style of regency times), classicism (a style dominated by the forms of antique architecture), modern (not to be confused with minimalism – here the refusal of direct lines in favor of natural lines), modernism (the style that you increasingly see on the streets), constructivism (Soviet style), postmodernism (the European interpretation of the historical heritage), hi-tech (technical progress in all its glory), deconstructivism (style of curves buildings), Digital architecture (architecture speaking no symmetry). In each architecture, the main elements are stone and stucco with which the style is formed.
A bit of history
Man always, at any time, strove for the beauty of his home. Even in the Stone Age, our distant ancestors painted on the walls of the caves of saber-toothed tigers and mammoths. And these were only the first steps in art. Millennia passed, and the civilizations of the Ancient World blossomed on the expanses of the earth. Unforgettable beauty of the palaces and temples of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria were decorated with gold, ceramic bas-reliefs, carvings on the precious wood, and natural gypsum stone went to the floors and facing the walls – but the skilled craftsmen and builders of these states never thought of the invention of plaster moldings. Historians and archaeologists confidently say that the world history of stucco decoration began only in ancient Egypt 5000 years before our era. It turns out that stucco molding – solemnly white and gilded, of dozens of different styles and thousands of different forms – has been decorating houses and palaces, theaters and temples, museums and estates for seven millennia.
So why not leaf through the pages of the past? Let’s see how the art of stucco art arose – and how it became an integral part of not only architecture, but the very history of mankind …
The stucco decoration of Ancient Egypt
Her Majesty History is traditionally inattentive to details – therefore, it did not preserve the exact date of appearance of the molded decor, and archeology, alas, is not all-powerful. But the first samples of stucco molding from Ancient Egypt that date back to us date back to the pre-dynastic era and the times of the Pharaohs of the First Dynasty – from Narmer to Kaa. It was then, for 5000-2800 years before the birth of Christ, in the palace and temple decoration for the first time appeared molded decorative elements. And the art of plaster molding reached the real heights in Egypt much later, one and a half millennium BC, in the epoch of the heyday of the world ancient Egyptian state during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut, the pharaohs of Thutmose III and the legendary Tutankhamun.
It was the Egyptian architects and builders who laid the foundation for the art of stucco decoration. And no wonder: the Pharaohs – the all-powerful lords of Upper and Lower Egypt – knew a lot about luxury. Their palaces and temples – “monasteries of millions of years” – were erected by thousands of slaves, but skillful stone-cutters were not found among them infrequently, and more and more stone decorations were required. So it was first ceramic decoration of baked clay, and then stucco, from plaster.
At first, the use of stucco was mainly utilitarian. For example, the columns simply supported the roof, then the upper part of the columns – the capital – began to decorate with the simplest carved and stucco ornamentation with colored paintings on plaster and stone. Gypsum stucco decorated door portals and door trim, and on the walls appeared convex stucco strips, cartouches and rosettes – animating plaster. It is interesting that the stucco decor was widely used not only in decorating palaces and temples, but also in the magnificent ornaments of the burial chambers of “houses of Eternity” – the pyramids.
Well, what exactly started the history of the ancient Egyptian plaster moldings? Here it is very simple – the ancient Egyptian builders and architects noticed that if you burn a gypsum stone and then the resulting powder – gypsum – mix with water, fill it with a mold and leave it to dry in the sun, the new material will harden, keeping the new shape with any pattern . Moreover, the gypsum was strong, light, wet and was also very plastic, and later perfectly suited for processing. Therefore, the Egyptians immediately moved to molded decor ornamental and vegetable motifs, traditional for the Mesopotamian culture – Sumer.
Long ago the fragile houses of simple Egyptians were dispelled by the dust of millennia, the palaces and temples-the great houses where the gods dwelt-turned into ruins-but the ancient Egyptian civilization survived for a long time the fine art of Ancient Egypt. It is believed that art is imbued with a certain mystical gloom – but in fact the Egyptians admired the highest beauty of life on the banks of the Nile. And they expressed their gratitude to the gods in art and architecture. We can admire their creations in museums all over the world and on the Egyptian land itself, in the ruins of tombs and temples … To feel this beauty – once again take a look at the columns adorned with wonderful stucco molding, plaster relief cornices and fragments of them that have come down to our days.
Fretwork of Ancient Greece and Rome
But the real flowering of the art of decorative stucco brought the era of Antiquity. In the days of Ancient Greece and Rome, the very foundations, aesthetic directions and technology of making moldings were formed. Even the current name “gypsum” for the unique material of the stucco appeared in Greece, where it was called “gypsum” – literally translated “boiling stone”.
The Greeks developed many traditions of the cultures of the Ancient World – and clothed in classical clarity and harmony. In the art of building and finishing the architects of Greece for the first time introduced an order – a clear system of architectural composition, combining structural and artistic and decorative elements. Ornaments of capitals (crowns) of columns, pilasters, modulons, ornamental cornices – from 1100 BC these stucco elements, often gilded, were widely used to decorate churches, public buildings and houses of wealthy townspeople. Virtually all forms of architectural decor, invented in Ancient Greece, have become classics for all subsequent times – until our XXI century.
The Romans borrowed the best from the Greeks – but, having departed from the Greek tradition, perfected and significantly enriched the art of stucco. For example, the architects and sculptors of Ellada used geometric stucco ornamentation – but in ancient Rome, with its desire for luxury, rich vegetable motifs were preferred. Vineyards and leaves, laurel branches, flower rosettes, multi-figured scenes from the life of the gods – stucco of the Roman Empire strikes with its diversity and sophistication of the subjects. And, like in Greece, the high social status of the owner of the house is largely evidence
In addition, in Rome, and invented a completely new form of stucco – “Stucco.” Alabaster, marble powder and crumbs, glue and some other impurities were added to the gypsum, and as a result, the stucco was of unprecedented strength, and after careful polishing it became indistinguishable from the luxurious marble.
It was in Rome, even four centuries before our era, that concrete was first widely used. It would seem – well, what has the topic of our narration? Nevertheless, just the use of concrete contributed to the widest distribution of stucco molding. So, the famous Colosseum is built from molded recurring concrete arches and ceilings – and it was the idea to use repetitive molded elements in architecture that led to a wide use of molded moldings and patterns … As a result, the technology of stucco molding became much simpler and cheaper – and in the architecture of late Rome stucco was present everywhere.
In stucco patterns, stylized sea waves, dolphins, fish and shells intertwined. The friezes were decorated with ornate garlands and horns of abundance … Capitals of columns, arches, niches, wall and ceiling rosettes – this beauty, embodied in the art of ancient Roman masters, can not but delight even after two millennia!
Antiquity predetermined the direction of the art of molded relief jewelry, gave an indispensable impetus, which dominated almost all the further styles of architecture – in Gothic and Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, classicism and modern art …
From the Dark Ages – to “whipped cream” rococo
But meanwhile the once powerful states of the Ancient World gradually came down from the stage of History. In the fifth century AD, under the onslaught of the barbarians, Rome finally fell – and after that Europe and the Byzantium, which replaced the Roman Empire, plunged into the darkness of the Dark Ages …
In the early Middle Ages, most of the cultural and technical achievements of antiquity were forgotten, and the Romanesque style that existed at that time implied not only simple and solid forms of buildings, but also a minimal minimum of finishing. The rays of the sun from the narrow window-loopholes could not disperse the eternal half-darkness in the palaces of kings and castles of the feudal lords – and the semi-darkness was completely harmonized by the heavy and rough reliefs made of stone. Well, this era did not have the grace of architecture!
Everything changed when the Romanesque style gradually replaced Gothic – but it did not happen soon, only in the XII century. And the cardinal changes were in the church architecture. In place of the gloomy and cumbersome “fortresses of God”, graceful Gothic temples with huge windows turned to heaven. Shamrocks, crucifers, leaves of grape, maple, ash and oak – all this delicate stucco decorations on columns, ceilings and window frames emphasized the elevation and subtle beauty of the architecture of the new era. Legendary Cathedral of the Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey, Cologne Cathedral – all architectural monuments of Gothic always delight the eye with magnificent stucco molding. But still, only the Renaissance style (Renaissance) brought true freedom to the world of stucco decor, which replaced the Gothic style in the 14th century …
Curiously, architects, artists and, in general, art people initially interpreted the Renaissance as a revival of the traditions of Antiquity – as opposed to supposedly barbaric Gothic. The principles of the architecture of the Renaissance are “ancient Roman” order, symmetry, proportions. In the Renaissance decor, the heaviness of the stone was finally overcome, the new material became gypsum-cement mixtures – and the stucco molding became one of the main elements of the decoration of buildings. Based on ancient examples of stucco molding, they admired and copied with joy. Of course, the former “Roman” pillars of the magnificent Corinthian order gained their former popularity.
Masters of the Renaissance put their souls into the stucco transformation of architecture – and solemn stucco decorations blossomed in the spacious interiors of palaces, city houses and public buildings. Fine examples of Renaissance stucco can be seen in all the masterpieces of that era – from St. Peter’s in Rome to the Pandolfini Palace in Florence, built by the great Raphael. However, even the Renaissance triumph of the stucco proved to be nothing more than a modest rehearsal in comparison with the true feast of baroque …
The Renaissance actually ended in 1527, with the famous fall and plunder of Rome, but in the 17th century the baroque style of the dying Renaissance simply eclipsed its predecessor – and this is the era considered the beginning of the victorious march of Western civilization in Europe. The “dull” rationalism was forgotten – the lush and pretentious-vicious baroque curved the strict lines of Renaissance architecture, introduced into it an intricate asymmetry, fluidity of forms and immense luxury. Stucco molding now abounded everything – ceilings and walls, columns and fireplaces, furniture and door portals, facades and pediments. Moreover, the baroque stucco was not only gypsum-white – it shone with rich gold and silver, amazed with splendor and variety. Cornices with geometric and floral ornamentation, rosettes and volutes, palmettes and pilasters, bouquets and garlands, medallions and moduleons, brackets, masks and mascarons, cupids, cartouches, plafonds – all these names sound like magic music! And the choice of baroque examples is very wide – from the Luxembourg Palace in Paris and the ensemble Grand Place in Brussels to the creations of the famous architect Rastrelli in the Russian Empire.
Of course, the baroque architecture could be accused of excessive dressing and cold airy bombast, if desired … But in the first half of the 18th century, the baroque in interior design turned into a rococo style – seduced by originality and at one time called “picturesque taste”. The playful capriciousness and gracefulness of the rococo forms made it possible to completely forget about strict symmetry, straight lines and flat surfaces. Whimsical leaves-curls and shells, masks and shields, garlands and festoons – all this intricate stucco decoration triumphed in the decoration of walls and plafonds, doors and windows.
Classicism and Art Nouveau
However, human attachments are impermanent, and fashion is changeable and capricious. In the 18th century, “whipped cream” stucco moldings of late Baroque and Rococo went down in history – they were fed up with architects and aristocrats, customers, and democratically-minded circles of European society. In France, already in the reign of Louis XV (1715-1774), the construction of architectural ensembles in the ancient Roman spirit began. And at the end of the century, under Louis XVI, a new direction – classicism – confidently won
The eclectic has outlived itself, and the modern has resolutely refused clear geometrism, symmetry, right angles and straightforwardness in general. Architectural lines and elements have become more “natural” – natural, free. The appearance of buildings and their interiors combined artistic and utilitarian, aesthetics and functionality. Modernity was to become an unprecedented synthetic style, in which the whole environment of man would be fulfilled in a single key. And, of course, due to this “higher destiny” of modernity, interest in the art of plastic decoration has sharply increased.
The author of truly fantastic buildings is Spaniard Antonio Gaudi, Belgian Victor Horta, American Louis Sullivan, Russian architect Fyodor Shekhtel – among the “software” modernist architects there are a lot of big names. In their creations, stucco has become fluid and elegant ornamentation, its laconic lines curving like whimsical plants. The ideas and flesh of the stucco decor became everything created by nature – branches and leaves, sea shells and fish scales, a game of waves and flowers of lilies, irises and cyclamen. For connoisseurs of art, the epoch of Art Nouveau is the time of real treasures included in the gold and world fund, and Russian architecture!
It is to the history of Russian architecture and its accompanying history of stucco decor we now turn to – and this story is no less fascinating and rich! Rich in events, the names of great rulers and architects – and a truly great architecture.
Stucco decoration in pre-revolutionary Russia
In the Russian state, the first attempts to use stucco molding came at the turn of the XVII and XVIII centuries – the times of an unprecedented collapse of the whole Old Testament way of life and the construction of a new state. Peter the Great with an iron hand performed a miracle, transforming the traditional estate-representative monarchy of the Russian kingdom into an absolute monarchy of the Prussian-Dutch-Swedish model. The Russian Empire became the second largest in the world after the British Empire – and its fundamental documents clearly stated the principle of absolutism: “His Majesty is an autocratic monarch who should not give an answer to anyone in his affairs.” At the same time, the main centers of strength of the former Rus – the Boyar Duma and the Patriarchate – lost their power. Earlier it was the traditions of the boyars and the old clergy that determined the very essence of Russian architecture – now everything was done solely by the will of the sovereign. Well, the will of Peter I in the field of architecture was expressed very clearly …
St Petersburg, being rebuilt from scratch, should have surpassed the capitals of Europe on its own scale, and its architecture was originally planned in a purely European spirit. And because the fashionable in Europe baroque stucco decoration decorated the very first buildings and palaces of the new imperial capital.
Curiously, because of the ever-cloudy sky and scattered light, which does not give sharp shadows, St. Petersburg’s architecture used quite bright colors. Residential and public buildings were painted in yellow, bluish-turquoise, red, green tones. Therefore, contrast-white architectural details – and plaster moldings in the first place – gave the city an unforgettable color.
St. Petersburg became the pearl of Russian urban development – and the capital was quickly followed by noble mansions, estates and official architecture of Moscow and other cities. But exactly what followed! Therefore, it is interesting to follow the example of St. Petersburg to establish the art of stucco decoration in Russia, as well as the entire architecture of the new state. Moreover, from now on they were bound together indissolubly …
Let’s notice, that really capital, brick and stone buildings during the Peter I and until the reign of Catherine II was built in Petersburg a little. Basically, these were wooden buildings, painted under stone or marble, and the quick, light stucco molding of plaster or soft stone was the best way to finish the painting. It’s ridiculous to say that even the Imperial Winter Palace at first resembled a bivouac hiking – in the first versions it was soon built and just as soon it was destroyed, built-up, rebuilt. Did not save and abundant stucco – not only white, but also saturated with color and gilding. According to historians, by 1750 Winter “represented a kind of motley, dirty, unworthy place it occupied, and the strangestness of the imperial palace … could not be pleasant to the Empress.”
At the same time, great attention was paid to finishing – the chief architect Rastrelli personally painted the curls of stucco molding, which linked the entire luxurious decoration of the huge building, from the facades to the inner chambers, into a single ensemble. In 1758 alone, more than 1000 best squares worked in the palace, as the gypsum carvers were then called. However, despite the efforts of the architects, Elizabeth did not see the completion of the construction – the palace was received semi-finished in April 1762 by her successor, Peter III. Then, in the summer of the same year, Catherine II the Great entered the throne, at the beginning of the reign of which the palace finally acquired a familiar face.
The new empress first dismissed Rastrelli – his style was not matched
The point in this triumph was put by a banal economy. The Soviet Union suffered enormous material losses in the Patriotic War – and simply could not afford such expenses. The era of Stalin’s Empire style ended in the blink of an eye, with the release in November 1955 of the resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers on “Elimination of excesses in design and construction.” Under the pressure of Nikita Khrushchev stucco molding and facade, and interior was recognized as a relic of the past, ecclesiastical and priestly. Therefore, in the new socialist construction, there was no room for it … It is curious that, with the first decision of the party and the government, the architects began hastily removing all the relapses of the prohibited molding from the finished projects and, in general, any decorative elements. buildings. Everything changed only at the very end of the 20th century, when Russian architecture regained its freedom.
Stucco of the new millennium
Stucco molding, whose history in Russia began three centuries ago, and today is the best option for creating an original interior. Stucco as if radiates a special festive light, awakens nostalgia in the soul and a touch of pleasant sadness, causes associations with long-gone times of exquisite luxury, grace and aristocracy.
Now stucco molding due to modern technologies can be not only traditional gypsum, but also polyurethane, and polystyrene – much easier, economical and convenient to install. Cases of windows and doorways, fireplace portals and chimneys, pilasters, rosettes, skirting boards, columns and semicolumns – all the diverse stucco elements are easily assembled into any composition. In doing so, stucco can correct many design flaws. Semicolumns best disguise the technological risers and pipes laid in unsuccessful places, and the busses, garlands and medallions will hide the seams between the panels and the unevenness of the walls.
Transforming the interior and appearance of the house, stucco works as a style-building element. With its help, architects and designers create in the space of the house an aesthetic background of Renaissance and Baroque, classicism and modernity – or even high-tech. In this case, stucco does not necessarily leave a classic white. It can be painted with acrylic paints or treated with patina and wax – this will visually age it, and it will acquire the outer velvety characteristic of the luxurious interiors of the palaces of the distant past. And you can also gild – such stucco decor will create an atmosphere of aristocratic chambers of the 17th-19th century in the house. Stucco is the true queen of decor, it defeats the smoothness of the ceilings and walls and gives them a volume and uniqueness. It is thanks to stucco that your apartment, office or country mansion can find a solemnly charming spirit of genuine art.