ANTIQUITY IN SPAIN & PORTUGAL

ANTIQUITY IN SPAIN & PORTUGAL

Alfama, Portugal is Lisbon's oldest district made famous for it's tight winding corridors and for having been one of the few neighborhoods to survive the devastating earthquake of 1755. Photo by Laura Pastores from Westminster College. - See more at: http://www.semesteratsea.org/2013/10/14/student-photo-gallery-portugal-and-spain/#sthash.Fr8RfmW1.dpuf

Alfama, Portugal  Lisbon’s oldest district made famous for it’s tight winding corridors and for having been one of the few neighborhoods to survive the devastating earthquake of 1755. Photo by Laura Pastores from Westminster College.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spain and Portugal . . . according to history, the two countries intermarried, so when Isabella pawned her jewels to raise funds for discoveries of new lands, it brought them great wealth. Portuguese Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope to India and brought untold wealth to his nation.

Statue in Seville, Spain near the city's main cathedral. Photo by Aylin Ozyigit from Pennsylvania State University. - See more at: http://www.semesteratsea.org/2013/10/14/student-photo-gallery-portugal-and-spain/#sthash.zhehSAUK.dpuf

Statue in Seville, Spain near the city’s main cathedral. Photo by Aylin Ozyigit from Pennsylvania State University. – See more at: http://www.semesteratsea.org/2013/10/14/student-photo-gallery-portugal-and-spain/#sthash.zhehSAUK.dpuf

In the latter years of the 15th century, the Portuguese, by an astounding expansion of their shipping, obtained their Indian, African, Chinese, and Brazilian colonies, and discovered the Azores. Portugal became one of the great empires of the world. Within the next century the Spanish conquistadors, Cortez and Pizarro, conquered Mexico and Peru, and for a century, Spanish galleons returned to Cadiz loaded with quantities of silver and gold. The ships that sailed under the Portuguese banner returned to Lisbon with the spices, silks, porcelains, and other products of both the East and the West of Europe. You see, Portugal was at intervals under the Crown of Spain but this arrangement was never acceptable to her people. She finally regained her independence and her former empire in 1665, but her people are of the same racial and cultural origins as those of Spain; her language is easily understood by the Spaniard and differs less than Catalan and Basque from the best Castilian.

Iberian Chair

Iberian Chair heavily carved in the stretchers and back splats.

 

I found the furnishings and the decorative arts of Spain and Portugal to be closely parallel. Although it does seem that the Spanish have somewhat more delicacy in their furnishings. Spain and Portugal were separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees, so influence was predominantly North African, or Moorish. Both countries also had strong economic and political ties with the East, Oriental and Indian influences can be seen in Iberian furniture.

 

 

 

 

Spanish Vargueno

Spanish Vargueno closed

A fall-front desk of the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries, having the form of a chest upon a small table.

The Spanish nobility led a relatively nomadic existence, so furniture had to be portable. Most furniture

Vargueno open

Vargueno open

was made of local walnut. Cabinets, or varguenos, had handles on the sides so that they could be lifted on or off stands. During the 16th century varguenos had been luxury items, but they became more common during the 17th century.

My interior design career took me all over the world. This gave me the opportunity to see and touch furnishings and the decorative arts of the early centuries. The Metropolitan Museum is a close second to my travels, where I brought friends and clients to experience antiquity, where you can see, but don’t touch. The Hispanic Museum in New York is another  learning place for antiquity. It’s where I first found a cabinet with secret compartments that I thought I originated. But, no, this clever cabinet idea was designed in the 12th century.   Building storage into a wall, or between two lally columns, and hiding the doors in some tricky, clever way. You’ve seen concealed places in the movies, even a secret room behind the library shelves. Doesn’t Harry Potter stories have secret places like these?

My artist friends who are going to Toledo, Spain with the great artist and workshop instructor, David Dunlop, will be hosted by the local El Greco museum. They are in for a treat, surrounded by antiquity. Opened in 1911, the museum is located in Toledo’s Jewish Quarter. It consists of two buildings: a 16th-century house with a courtyard, and an extension dating from the early 20th century. The two share a garden. The museum houses numerous works by El Greco, especially from this brilliant painter’s last period, as well as canvases by other 17th century Spanish painters, furniture from the same era and pottery from Talavera de la Reina.

Any questions? Ask away . . .

COLOR PURPLE

COLOR PURPLE

Tunnel Loop

Tunnel Loop

It was the year AD 975 when the word ‘purple’ first appeared in the English language. Purple is a range of hues of color occurring between red and blue. In additive light combinations it occurs by mixing the primary colors red and blue in varying proportions. It is a secondary color because two colors (blue and red) make up this color.

Kristan's Shoes

Kristan’s Shoes

In color theory, a ‘purple’ is defined as any non-spectral color between violet and red (excluding violet and red themselves).The spectral colors violet and indigo are not purples according to color theory but they are purples according to common English usage since they are between red and blue.

Color wheel

Color wheel

In art, purple is the color on the color wheel between magenta and violet and its tints and shades.

 

 

Royalty

Royalty

The color purple’s ties to kings and queens date back to ancient world, where it was prized for its bold hues and often reserved for the upper crust. The Persian king Cyrus adopted a purple tunic as his royal uniform, and some Roman emperors forbid their citizens from wearing purple clothing under penalty of death. Purple was especially revered in the Byzantine Empire. Its rulers wore flowing purple robes and signed their edicts in purple ink, and their children were described as being “born in the purple.”

The reason for purple’s regal reputation comes down to a simple case of supply and demand. For centuries, the purple dye trade was centered in the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre in modern day Lebanon. The Phoenicians’ “Tyrian purple” came from a species of sea snail now known as Bolinus brandaris, and it was so exceedingly rare that it became worth its weight in gold. To harvest it, dye-makers had to crack open the snail’s shell, extract a purple-producing mucus and expose it to sunlight for a precise amount of time. It took as many as 250,000 mollusks to yield just one ounce of usable dye, but the result was a vibrant and long-lasting shade of purple.

Happy combo colors

Happy combo colors

Clothes made from the dye were exorbitantly expensive—a pound of purple wool cost more than most people earned in a year—so they naturally became the calling card of the rich and powerful. It also didn’t hurt that Tyrian purple was said to resemble the color of clotted blood—a shade that supposedly carried divine connotations. The royal class’ purple monopoly finally waned after the fall of the Byzantine empire in the 15th century, but the color didn’t become more widely available until the 1850s, when the first synthetic dyes hit the market.

Lucite allows light to pass through

This Z-chair made in Lucite allows light to pass through creating value varieties

One interesting psychophysical feature of purple and violet that can be used to separate them is their appearance with increasing light intensity. As the intensity increases, violet appears to take on a far more blue hue as a result of what is known as the Bezold-Brücke shift. The same increase in blueness is not noted in purples.

Lüscher says about violet, The mentally mature will normally prefer one of the basic colors rather than violet. Basic being red, blue and yellow. The mentally and emotionally immature on the other hand, may prefer violet. He goes on to say, in the case of 1600 pre-adolescent school children, 75% preferred violet. Statistics embracing Iranians, Africans and Brazilian Indians showed a marked preference for this color as compared with Euro-Caucasians.

Benjamin Moore colors

Benjamin Moore colors

Through my years in design, I have found that this statement is more cultural than emotional. In my old standby text, Interior Design and Decoration by Sherrill Whiton, in the chapter Psychology of Color, Psychologists maintain that color preferences are determined by geographical location, religion and socioeconomic background.

Common connotations of purple include royalty, imperialism, nobility, Lent, Easter, Mardi Gras.

Wikipedia is a great purple resource!

What are your thoughts on the color purple? Do you surround yourself with purple? Do you wear purple? Would you like purple hair, or a streak of purple hair?

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