Decorating with Florentine Gold|Tricks of the Trade
Decorating with Florentine gold wood pieces has been re-discovered by collectors and designers, and all of us! With roots in the 15th century, these luminous decorative accents are as beautiful for use in modern homes as French country or old world interiors.
By now you know I love things that are bright, sparkly and shiny. Add an artist’s touch, and soft, aged glowing patina? I’m all in!
Florence, Italy, has a long tradition of beautiful artisan work. Florence is considered the city that birthed the Renaissance in the 15th century. During the Renaissance the city of Florence was celebrated all through Europe as the very center of all the fine arts – masterful painting, bronze work, furniture making and gold gilding. Italian artists and craftsmen, particularly in Florence, organized themselves into craft guilds, and that influence is still prominent today.
Florence as a city is gorgeous. The buildings, monuments and churches are stunning, and beyond inspiring! In 1865, in an effort to boost Florence’s economy and promote the artists and crafts of the city, the stunning museum Bargello was opened by royal decree. It was Italy’s first national museum.
Florence’s reputation for the fine arts spread around the world. The craftsmen of Florence perfected techniques for decorating hand carved wooden surfaces, covering them with rich gold. The old mirrors made by Florentine craftsmen are especially beloved by savvy decorators and collectors.
Florentine artists made a variety of wood objects, hand carving their surfaces and adding colors by hand painting with fine detail. Soon every Victorian traveler on a “Grand Tour” shopped in the city for a Florentine gold painted carved wood box, frame, or tray to bring back home as a souvenir. These Florentine crafts were considered in extremely fine design taste, pure Italian Renaissance style in the late 1800’s.
The fine craft reputation of Florence craftsmen has remained during the centuries. In the 1940’s through 1960’s, the new glamorous Hollywood Regency style of decorating brought all the Florentine wood pieces back in style in a big way. Hollywood was in its golden age, and the glitzy design sets of many popular movies, as well as the homes of the stars themselves were decorated with finely made gold Florentine wood accents.
Florentine wood accents will always be treasured and collected because it reflects a beautiful contemporary interpretation of old-world Renaissance art for today. With all the glamour and glitz, but old world patina and style.
Florentine boxes, frames, trays, letter holders and more complement so many decor styles, and are always a gorgeous addition to your home. They are still being made, but I prefer the slightly shabby, older pieces with their decades old patina over the newer pieces.
It’s fine to mix a few vintage Italian Florentine Trays with your favorite French antiques! Case in point, this tray with the antique French standing mirror look perfect together!
Side Note: Recently I was able to purchase a collection of small boxes, covered in a gorgeous hand made marbled paper. The technique is so interesting, it’s called Papier á Cuve – Hand Made Marbled Paper. This technique originated in Turkey in the 15th century, the original technique was called “ebru”. This newer process was born in the 17th Century in France by the official bookbinder of Louis XIII, he created papers fit for the King.
The Italian technique was developed from this french method using twelve colors. Artists use a variety of techniques and scatter paint drops in a basin containing a mixture of chemicals that adhere the colors to the paper. Each individual process creates a one of a kind sheet of paper with unique marbling designs, so beautiful!
WHAT TO COLLECT:
QUALITY. A true Florentine wood piece has quality that is unsurpassed. It can be shabby, but the carving, the gilded paint and the design is fine, and lovely to look at.
WOOD. Look for the wood pieces, they are the old ones. Trays were also made in less expensive plastic, which look fairly much like the old wood pieces. Unless it’s a color that you can’t live without,pass up the plastic and search out the wood.
MARK. Many of the Florentine pieces are not marked, and some are. A mark does not necessarily mean the piece is wood, as the plastic trays had a mark “burned” into them.
Florentine gold decorative accents are avidly collected because they are well made, appealing to look at, and work in any home decor.
A collection of trays hung on a wall is instant art. A tray on your bathroom counter can hold your perfume bottles in great style. And who doesn’t love the letter holders for a desk to coral some important mail or display a few beautiful prints? Florentine gilded wood seems to fit in everywhere, and beautifully!
Florentine Gold, are you as in love with their old world|contemporary charm as we are?
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