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.

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