One of the things that motivates me to blog is the need to understand something about my photographic subjects before I write about them. I learn things. It’s perhaps no surprise that my blogging and photography grew to fill a gap left when I finished studying for my MBA I suppose.

Sometimes my researches fail me, and when this relates to some small obscure detail I can accept that, although saddened that its significance may be lost to the world, but when I see something that is relatively commonplace, yet am unable to define it or explain it then I am frustrated in both senses of the word.

On my transfer from the airport to the city I spotted a building which appeared to be part of a rail complex, but which stood out because of the way its walls had been painted. Now I’m accustomed to the ochre and the ecru which Italian paint over their stuccoed walls; its one of the things that tells you you’re in Italy, but this was slightly different. It had details painted onto it with shading that gave a textured or three-dimensional element to the flat walls.

My immediate thought was that this was an influence from the north. It reminded me of the decoration one often sees in Austria and the Tyrol where baroque swirls are often given shadow to create the illusion of being plaster rather than paint. With Genoa having once been occupied by Austria, and the way in which Hapsburgs controlled so much of Europe, I was content that this might explain it.

But then I started to explore the city, and it’s everywhere!  Painted stucco with three dimensionally styled decoration.  “I must find out what the correct term is for that technique,” I thought, but have I been able to?  Any googling involving paint and architecture invariably leads to paintings of architecture, or interior design techniques that might once have been espoused by Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen.  The style isn’t really convincing enough to be trompe l’oeil, or illusionism so what is it called?

I want to know more!  Is it a descendant of the frescos of Pompeii, where painted walls incorporated architectural details to divide and delineate elements of a story within the pictures?  Perhaps it was just an economic decision – cheaper to paint columns than build them?  Or was it evidence of cultural influence from over the Alps?  (Given that I’ve never noticed the technique in such abundance elsewhere in Italy a geographic factor would seem logical.)

Somebody tell me please!!!!!!!

OK.  A nice calming cup of tea is in order I think, both for me and the non Italian speaking ladies who crossed their legs at the sight of my title – it means “He speculates”!

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3 thoughts on “Speculò (G7)

  1. Thanks to Bee who drew my attention to this article…

    though I’m not sure about the window tax being a genuine reason. I’m familiar with the concept – lots of examples in Georgian Bath, but that was much later than the 15th century and as far as I know didn’t spread further than the UK, Ireland and France. The buildings in question here seem later than 15th century too, though of course that doesn’t mean that the fashion didn’t originate before them and then continue.

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