Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Genovese Painter’s Palette

Many things compete for your attention when walking around Genoa, and spring sunshine accentuates the exquisite colors which adorn many of the buildings. The city is awash in pastel yellow/orange/red tones. This makes for beautiful contrasts with the Mediterranean sea and sky, and many postcard-perfect sights.  

There is also the Ligurian approach to decorating buildings with detailed architectural features designed as “visual tricks.” We'll frequently see masonry, stone carvings, columns, flower pots, and even iron bars that are painted illusions. 

We've learned that this style of trompe l'oeil (which translates from French to mean "fools the eye") is common in the province of Liguria, and especially within Genoa. Some art historians think this is tied to the notion that the citizens of Genoa have always been parsimonious (a theme we've heard many times), and that painting the facades of buildings was much cheaper than having a sculptor or mason create actual architectural ornamentation. Another theory is that the tradition originated during Genoa's dominance as a trading center: ship captains passing the coastline would decide to stop in Genoa's port, having viewed through their monocular what appeared to be elaborate stonework and gilded facades on the city's buildings. By the time they realized these were fake representations of Genoa's wealth, it was too late to turn back and they would conduct their business in the port anyway. 

Whatever the origin and rationale, we've enjoyed the stunning deceptions! 
Two of the windows are painted depictions, along with all of the stone blocks or carvings.

No comments:

Post a Comment