Whenever I’m off antiquing I’m always on the lookout for a few extra intaglios. What are those, you might ask? Intaglios are circular ivory pieces that are carved with faces or figurines. The images are made by cutting or carving into the surface of each piece rather than featuring them in relief.
I find these carved discs so beautiful – I think I’m almost addicted! I can’t pass by one without seriously considering buying it. Luckily my hubby loves them too because of their neat history and beautiful simplicity, and he’s usually just as thrilled to find one!
You might have seen these before, as they are amazing to decorate with, but another great thing I love about them is their history. Remember The Grand Tour? This was a traditional trip taken by young upper-class men around Europe, a part of their education in understanding classic antiquities and the Renaissance period from 1660 to 1840. They would travel from England to France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and so on, in search of art, culture and the roots of Western civilization.
These trips were considered a rite of passage, and part of them was commissioning paintings and buying antiques like books and intaglios. The images formed on intaglios told stories of the antiquities, and so these too became a symbol of refinement and artistic wealth.
So as you can see there is a rich history associated with these gorgeous little pieces. Now on the fun stuff, they are wonderful to decorate with. A grouping of intaglios on the wall makes for a very unusual focal point, and is guaranteed to draw attention. Take a look this bedroom; I love how the ivory intaglios contrast so beautifully with the deep chocolate background. So perfect for a warm and cozy bedroom!
Of course, putting the intaglios into a fancier frame creates even more of an effect. What do you think of this cluster of intaglios set in ornate blue and gold frames? The placement of the intaglios, along with the shape of the frames, makes me think of two oversized brooches on the wall – just beautiful!
Here are a few more inspiring projects that use intaglios:
What do you think: how would you use intaglios in your own space? Let us know!
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