PAINTED INTERIORS IN DWELLING HOUSES OF RIGA BURGHERS FROM THE 16TH TO THE 18TH CENTURY (Interjeru gleznieciba Rigas pilsonu namos no 16. lidz 18. gadsimtam)
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Painted interiors are a meeting place for architecture, decorative arts and fine arts. This situation makes the subject especially interesting. During the last two decades an active research of Riga historical buildings has discovered a wide variety of polychrome interiors. They attest that from the 16th to the 18th century house-painters' services were used most often to create a splendid interior space. Paint was the cheapest means to evoke an impression of splendour, imitating expensive materials. Painted interiors also showed their owners' ethical stance and social position. Middle and the 2nd half of the 16th century is the period of the first certain polychrome dwelling premises in Riga. More ancient evidence of interior finish was lost together with the town's Gothic buildings. The oldest known example is dated by the 2nd quarter of the 16th century and is located in the former territory of the Franciscan Order at Laipu Street 8. In the 17th-century Riga almost all painted Renaissance and Mannerism compositions feature a drapery on the lower part of the wall. Almost all discovered interior paintings of the 16th-17th centuries are located in dwelling premises on the 1st floor level. So they are not meant for visitors but rather to improve the aesthetic quality of the owners' closest surroundings. Overall covering of the wall with painted grey acanthus 'jungle' was one of the most favoured interior decorations in the late 17th and early 18th century - the period of high Baroque. The wall painting in the winding staircase room at Audeju Street 10 is an excellent example of this Baroque-style acanthus decoration. Very large acanthus leaves are painted in grey. Many high-quality ceiling paintings of the late 17th century and early 18th century are found In Riga. Two types of covering with different construction solutions and traditions of decoration are to be distinguished - the simple beam-board ceding and more complex overall plugged-beam ceiling. Several splendid examples of beam-board ceilings are found in the Mentzendorff House (Grecinieku Street 8).
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