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Inspiration: Shingle Siding, Faux Finishes and Antique Furniture

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Thank you for sharing the tour of the plantation with us. What a trove of finishing ideas!

One of my favorite historic homes to visit is Gunston Hall, home of George Mason, and my favorite room is the diningroom with its indescribably loud yellow (obscenely expensive pigment in the 18th Century) paint job and the exquisite hand painted Chinese wallpaper panels. When we toured Mt Vernon and I saw the small diningroom there it dawned on me that our country's founders had quite a taste for loud paint jobs and bright colors where they ate.

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Thank you for sharing the pictures with us. There certainly is a lot of inspiration in your pictures and I bet you saw a lot more inspirational stuff than you got pictures of. The fireplace is gorgeous even if it hasn't been cleaned. The shingling/siding of the church was also beautiful. Imagine the time it took to do all that.

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Wow Ive never seen buildings of this time in our history with these characteristics, and so many techniques. Wouldnt you love to have met the artist, and that certainly is what he was and eavesdropped on his conversations with the mistress of the house. Plus no tutorial help for him, it just came from the heart. I had no idea this estate existed. Putting it on my bucket list. We are very fortunate that there are persons with the passion and funds to preserve our history. And it contains the beautiful as well as the ugly.

And can you imagine the heart of the person 'designing' the front of the CHURCH..a caged bird singing..and I mean that in no no no no way disrespectfully. This person had beauty in their soul.

Holly when we visited Mt. Vernon I remember my mouth dropped at the colors. I was surprised, it wasn't what I expected.

Kathie thank you so much for sharing this unique place. It does fit this forum.

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Kathie, this is some amazing eye candy and the details you captured are fascinating. I love all the paintings, especially the faux ceiling medallion. Visiting old houses is one of the things I like to do regardless of the area or the era. I'm intrigued by the different styles of building and ornamentation within the same era but from different regions. Thank you sooooo much for sharing these pictures with us.

One quick question........was Gloria right? Did the desk fit in your trunk? I have this mental image of the two of you hoisting it up and hauling out the front door. :rofl:

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Deb, I convinced Glo that she didn't really have the right place for this desk in her home. Sneaking it past the visitor center would have been tricky, even for us.

Sue, the story is that a traveler fell ill near the plantation and was taken in and nursed back to health. As a thank-you to the family, he painted their home and did not charge them. Having seen some of his work on other plantations, I'm thinking this lucky family got the best of his talent. If I can get past this senior moment, I'll post his name. He deserves the credit.

Holly and Sue, part of the reason the old colors were so intense is that much of it was made from raw pigment, botanical and chemical. The bright yellow in Thomas Jefferson's dining room came about because

in 1815, he got his hands on a supply of lead chromate yellow pigment, invented only a few years earlier in France. The color was fashionable, and few people complained of its intensity in an era when the after-dark illumination of candles and lamps produced the equivalent of fewer than five watts of electric light.

The above quote and the following are from Historic Paint Colors on Bob Vila's website.

Often the paints historians find are surprisingly bright; many of the colors, like Jefferson’s chrome yellow, were fresh and new in their time. At the turn of the eighteenth century, for example, the first chemically synthesized color, Prussian blue, became wildly popular after a Berlin colourman produced it using a salt compound of iron and potassium. Verdigris green was another innovation, made from a crystal formed by suspending copper sheets in a vat of vinegar. Before chrome yellow was first manufactured in 1819, other yellows were in use, including Turner’s Patent yellow, marketed in the 1780s.

Of course, some pigments weren’t new even in the age of the Founding Fathers. Among them were whiting (a form of calcium carbonate), white lead, indigo, and burnt umber. Yellow ochre and traditional reds, including Venetian red and the purplish Spanish brown, were each made with naturally occurring earth pigments in use since antiquity. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, however, the range of choices would expand exponentially, making possible the polychrome paint schemes of the Victorian age, typified by the so-called “painted ladies” of San Francisco.

The verdigris green and yellow ochre were especially popular in the South.

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I found out a bit more about the artist. There are a couple different versions of the story. He was Domenici Canova, born 1800 in Italy, where he began his artistic training. He arrived in Louisiana about 1837 to teach art at Jefferson College. He died in New Orleans in 1868. Many decorative paintings in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes are attributed to him, including an altar piece and a fresco for the St. Louis Cathedral and the decorative paintings of the San Francisco Plantation. The owners of the San Francisco Plantation (on the east bank of the river) and Whitney Plantation (on the west bank of the river) were related, so given this kinship and the proximity of the two plantations, it is quite possible that he worked on both.

This is a ceiling in the San Francisco Plantation:


Although the story in the #9 post above says that the then owner, Marcellin Haydel, had the artist nursed back to health and received the paintings in gratitude, another source says that Marcellin's widow, Azélia, commissioned Canova to do the painting when she ran the plantation after her husband's death, probably in the 1840s. This source says Azélia had her late husband's initials included in cartouches in the corners of the ceiling of the sitting room. Unfortunately my photo of the corner is not clear enough to reveal this detail.

Azélia may have had the faux marble and interior decorations done to enhance the stature of the brick and wood structure and let her neighbors know that despite being a widow woman with no sons to help with the agricultural operations, her plantation was among the most productive along the German Coast.

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