Magnificent Neo-Romanian style “Tree of Life” decorative panel

Neo-Romanian style window decoration, Piata Romana area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I was literally blown away when I first encountered the splendid “Three of Life” window decorative panel, shown in the photograph above, part of the elaborate decoration of a late 1920s – early 1930 Neo-Romanian style house in central Bucharest. It is still well preserved, with the exception of the upper part of the window reticular screen, which was probably broken sometimes in the last decade by ignorant proprietors to make way for air conditioning ducts, a blemish that is nevertheless repairable. The panel is in fact a complex composition of many symbols, inspired from the rich Romanian church and peasant mythology, arranged together in a succession of metaphors that unfurl along the three of life theme.  I can detect there the origins of life motif in the plant pot represented on the base sector, sitting on three grains (the Trinity) from which the life sprang up as a fruit bearing vine plant. The middle sector shows life’s many paths represented by the two decorative side window dressings that illustrate the continuous Manichean encounters between the good (symbolised by the protector eagle) and evil (symbolised by the dragon) forces. Their encounters are interrupted by ornate medallions containing the symbol of the cross, epitomising the peaceful moments attained at some points in life. The upper sector is a representation of the Garden of Eden, where two peacocks, attributes of beauty and peace, feed from a fruit laden cup sustained by a double traverse cross symbolising in the Byzantine/ Orthodox imagery the triumph of Christ and therefore of life over death. The three sectors thus form together an elaborate and full of details three of life, that gives personality and meaning to the the whole architecture of the house. There are many other symbols within this wonderful assembly, like the rope unfurling on the edge of the reticular screen, symbolising the infinity, etc. The whole panel is an wonderful Neo-Romanian style design, which has found in the local church and peasant art and mythology an extraordinarily rich source of inspiration.

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I endeavor through this series of daily articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.

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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.

Neoromanian tree of life 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.