Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Decorating: Renaissance style

I always think the weekend after Thanksgiving is the perfect time to decorate for the holidays. For exterior decorating it's not too cold yet (hopefully) and it leaves the decorations up for the longest for everyone to enjoy!
Recently while in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, I noticed the fan of fruit above the front door of the Bank of Alexandria Building  (1792) seen in the images above.  Commonly referred to as "Williamsburg over-door fans" these decorations actually date to the early 20th century thanks to House Beautiful magazine!
For the Holiday issue of 1926 House Beautiful encouraged its readers to decorate like Lucca della Robbia, an Italian Renaissance sculptor known for his use of fruit wreaths (see above for an example of his work). In the late 1930s Christmas decorating competitions were held in Colonial Williamsburg and many of the participants sourced House Beautiful and created these fruit decorations which would have been thought quite odd and wasteful in hard Colonial times!
The pineapple is often used as a sign of hospitality, perfect for the holidays.  These over-doors are also similar to the magnificent carvings of sculptor Grinling Gibbons who achieved ultimate realism in his carvings of fruit and flowers in early 18th century England.  What do you think -would you use fruit in your holiday decorating?