Plaster ceilings (Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries)

Posted: January 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

One of the most important and beautiful parts of plastic art is the decoration of ceilings. In the reign of Edward VI, the English plasterer had rapidly learnt the art and was largely occupied as almost every house of importance erected during the period was adorned either internally or externally, and often both. In the Elizabethan and subsequent periods plaster work was used largely in ceiling, wall, and chimney decoration.

The hall ceiling of Craigievar, Aberdeenshire is a rare example of arched work. A finely designed ribbed pendant from the centre of the vault, while two smaller ones depend from the centres of the halves of the ceiling. The panels are enriched with coats of arms, foliage and other details.

Below is a portion of the plaster ceiling and walls taken from the gallery in St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. This beautiful church was built in 1722, and designed by James Gibbs, a celebrated architect. The internal effect is very fine from its spaciousness, stateliness, and ornamental treatment.

The true French character of the period can be found on the Queen’s bed-chamber and the Salon de Medailles at Versailles. Naturally the Louis XV style followed that of Louis XIV, a more flowing and less architectural distribution of ornament took place, and the plain field of the ceiling became a more important feature.

A ceiling in a shop at Princes Street, Edinburgh. This elegant ceiling is in the Elizabethan style, and is remarkable for its free and open paneling, and its numerous pendant parts, one being placed at every mitre. The fine and bold centrepiece depends about 3 feet in depth.

A fine example of decorative plaster work is this portion of staircase landing over the entrance hall in Mr W. Macfarlane’s residence, Park Circus, Glasgow. This is a fine example of elliptical arching in a semi-Gothic style. The elaborate moulded and fluted columns are composed of Keen’s cement, and are marbled and polished. This mansion was erected in 1880.

Plan of a part of the drawingroom ceiling, Toddington, Gloucestershire. This very elaborate mansion was designed in the Tudor style — it has in fact been termed by some critics as the “Tudor of Tudors.” The building was begun in 1819, and took over twenty years to complete. The drawing-room is 40 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 20 feet high. The pendentive ribs are internally supported by iron pipes.

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