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News > The Victorian style through Tatiana Antonchenko’s eyes

The Victorian style – (Eng. "Victorian style") is a conventional title of an extended period in art history of England from the second half of the XIX century, related to the reign of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and Prince consort (Eng. consort – husband) Albert (1819-1861).

There are three periods: early (1835-1855) is called romantic or period of neostyles; medium (1855-1870) or the great - a period of prosperity, when there were determined the most recognizable features of the style; late (1870-1910) or aesthetic – the lightest, brightest, the most elegant, it serves as the prelude to the modernism.

The beginning of the Victorian epoch was full of rampant optimism. At this time England experienced a period of industrial boom and became the "workshop of the world". And the arrogant psychology of the new "middle class" (middle class) accordingly developed, seeking to surround themselves with attributes of "luxury living". Again came into use the concept "fear of emptiness", but in contrast to the traditional interpretation, for example, in the Baroque art, it was a reflection of a different, eclectic thinking, this is noticeable in the design of residential interiors. Against the background of stylistically undetermined decor without any order and distinction there were placed a lot of unnecessary items.

«This «fear of emptiness» the Victorians took for comfort, taste and a secular tone»,  wrote in his book on the history of design interior Ch.Mac-Korkodeyl.

Despite numerous accusations in eclecticism and the over-saturation of details, this style is still the embodiment of a truly English interior. However, the British do not sympathize with this style. It is considered to be just a prolonged period of eclecticism, mixed features of Gothic, chinoiserie, Italian Renaissance and Parisian market. Victorian interior –  is an image at the same time collective and complete. With few strokes and details it cannot be created, it requires maximum reliability.

As a result, in a house Classicism and Baroque, Gothic and Rococo, Empire and Oriental exoticism, simplicity and luxury, cosy solidity and aristocratism peacefully exist. With all saturation of the Victorian interior there is harmony in it, each detail corresponds with others in texture, shape or colour. Modern Victorian style does not reflect the historical truth, it only takes the basics. This style is rightfully considered to be one of the most difficult to implement. 

The Victorian style requires expensive and high-quality finishing. Dark fine wood (mahogany, walnut, bog oak, yew). Moldings, stained glass, parquet. Terracotta or black and white tiles laid in a chess order in a hall, kitchen, bathrooms.

Ceilings are either whitewashed or simply decorated with moldings, or sheathed with wood panels. Massive doors and windows are often decorated with stained glass rhombs. Floors are laid with oak planks or parquet with geometric patterns taken from different wood species.

In decorating of walls there are often combined several materials – thus, surface is divided into two or three horizontal fragments. The upper part of walls is painted or covered with decorative plaster with stencil pattern, put up wallpaper or covered with fabric.

Ground belt is sheathing with wood panels. Pattern on wallpaper and fabrics: from classic vertical stripes and heraldic motifs to geometric ornament with complex interlacing, and also floral motif, with larger and contrast image of leaves, flowers, etc.

This style is far from minimalistic, abundance of accessories, many of which bear the patina of the colonial style. Indian, Chinese and Japanese screens, hookahs, Chinese and English porcelain, Oriental boxes, lamps of bronze, porcelain, glass in the style of Chinese vases on high legs, porcelain and moulded figures and vases, grandfather clocks, mirrors, framed with carved wood, ceramic pots with plants.

On walls there are pictures in voluminous carved frames: portraits, watercolor landscapes, images of flowers and animals, and also fabulous and mystical subjects. Furniture is solid, with pilasters, capitals, cornices, and also figured legs of tables and high carved backs of chairs. Polishing, varnishing, gilding ARE NOT APPLIED!

Springs in seats and backs of splendid chairs and sofas (new), leather "grandfather" chairs with "ears". In a bedroom, along with high wooden beds under the canopies, there are beds without canopy on brass or iron frame. Curtains with lush pelmets and tails consist of at least two types of curtains: heavy, with braid, pompons, fringe, massive brushes, and light – made from tulle or lace fabric. Bedspreads and canopies make whole ensemble with curtains on windows. Carpets on floor, on sofas. Plaids, Oriental shawls, pillows with tassels on furniture.

Fabrics, mainly velvet, brocade, damask, taffeta, chintz, fine linen, silk. In upholstery there are used printed velvet, tweed, wool and silk with floral pattern. Leather, tapestries, carpets with floral pattern.

Lighting is dimmed.

Colour range.

The early period is characterized by light colours: pale pink, lilac, beige and ocher, warm white.

The medium period – there are warm rich colours: red, burgundy, brown, green, terracotta, yellow. Exactly they have become the hallmark of the Victorian style.

Late period – bright colours: white, dusty green, grey-beige.

You are welcome to read the full article on the personal website of the author – designer Tatiana Antonchenko

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Specially for the International Association VATIKAM (Paris, France).

Sincerely yours, Tatiana Antonchenko.


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