26 March 2011

Neues Museum, alte Schönheit

Fresken im Ägyptischen Hof von Karl Eduard Biermann  .
 It's  impossible for me to visit Berlin without thinking about how it looked the first time I visited in 1984 as a college student.   My best girlfriend and I stayed in a cheap pensione whose back half had been blown away and was closed off simply by shutting a hallway door, something I found out accidentally at 2 AM while looking for the WC.   
visitor,  Akhenaten with family, architecture
A trip through Checkpoint Charlie led us through a wasteland of bombed out buildings, many of them with trees growing up through them.  I recall thinking that the Communists left the mess as some sort of message.

Through subsequent visits I have seen Berlin knit itself back together, then reinvent itself to become once again a world class city filled with artists of all kinds.

During my most recent visit, I was excited to see the Neues Museum, the original home of the Egyptian Museum, which has recently reopened.
remnants of niche ornament
The Neues Museum, on Berlin's Museum Island, was completed in 1855 by Friedrich August Stüler, and was once Prussia's most important and famous public buildings. It was bombed to smithereens during WWII and left empty and largely exposed to the elements for over 60 years.
Neues Museum Bacchus Room in 2000, note vine marks on walls.  image via Wikipedia
Bacchus Room in 2009 after renovation.  image via Wikipedia

Some aging ornament in a gallery of the Neues Museum
Gallery ornament, detail
Under the splendid design and direction of British architect David Chipperfield, the Neues Museum was rebuilt, as a sort of archeological site itself,  incorporating old and new, displaying its collection and its history in equal measure.

Ornamental painting, bullet holes,  exposed brickwork, and modern finishes all work together to create an historic environment for one of the world's most famous archeological collections.

The modern areas of the building are pure form and space, and are simply breathtaking.
Glimpses of the building's former glory, with its 19th century decorative treatments, are particularly thrilling.
 circa 1855 ceiling borders in the Neues Museum
A fragment of a lost ceiling, Neues Museum
Nefertiti enshrined at the Neues Museum, image via Wikipedia
The centerpiece of the museum's collection is the breathtaking bust of Nefertiti.  She is displayed alone in a lovely domed room with malachite green walls of polished plaster. I cannot describe how inspiring this sensitive and beautiful portrait really is. No photograph can do her justice.
exposed brickwork and original decorative fragments form the backdrop for the Neues Museum displays
Wall ornamentation, Neues Museum, Berlin

For more information and images about this building and its renaissance,  have a look at these sites:

Neues Museum website, virtual architectural tour.

New York Times article about the museum renovation, with many great pictures.

AIA Architect Magazine review and photos of the Neues Museum.

Exterior Views, original plans, and architectural designs, at Wikipedia

Click on images to view larger

photos in this post by Lynne Rutter, March 2011  unless otherwise noted.

21 March 2011

The Doors of Prague

entry door St. Francis Seraphicus Church, Prague  .
I made a too-short visit to Prague this month, getting only lightly reacquainted with one of my favorite cities. Since my last visit 10 years ago (wow, has it been that long!?), much has been restored or rehabilitated. I noticed in particular  gleaming and intricate ornamental ironwork, particularly on the doors.  
I posted a larger collection of these door pictures at flickr.  Here are some highlights:
beautiful amber painted door of the newly restored palace of the Rožmberkové (house of Rosenberg) Prague
strapwork ornament carved into an old door, Staré Město
Detail of one of three black iron doors with polished iron ornaments, Italian Embassy, Prague
These exterior door are all at street level, and are special with good reason. An overall pattern adds to the architecture of each building, and the door becomes more detailed and personal the closer you get. What better way to invite you closer?

I don't know anything about the specific tradition of ironwork in this region, but it does seem to have a distinctive style reminiscent of celtic designs. Which makes sense since during the  *cough* Iron Age, the Celts originated from this area.

a delicate and ornate knocker on an ebonized, studded door
a beautiful medieval looking figural knocker
splendid entry door and handle of the Svatý Mikuláš  (St. Nicholas) church, Tyn Square
Now, some interior doors
a lovely old door in the Vladislav Hall, Prague Castle
a very simple inlaid door with fantastic hinges
a beautiful marquetry door in Prague Castle
a small utilitarian door in a hallway- at once substantial and elegant.
ornate hinge: St Thomas Church, Prague

I am resisting the urge to pound a thousand upholstery tacks into my front door. However, a faux marquetry door might not be out of the question.

More pictures!
If you like door knockers, check out this collection by Grant K Gibson.

17 March 2011

Silver Gilt

silver gilt moulding detail, Charlottenburg
In the Schloß Charlottenburg,  Berlin, a number of rooms are still being  restored and re-gilt. There is an enfilade suite of rooms in the Neuer Flügel with silver-gilt mouldings that I found particularly charming
white and silver room, Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin
Silver looks beautiful with white, and with mirrors of course, but look how splendidly it works with color.
a silver and green chamber
a silver gilt door reflects the warmth of the adjoining red and gold room

a favorite moment: worn silver gilt window shutter, with curry yellow silk drapes
Curry yellow silk upholstered walls and silver gilt mirror
Enfilade is in the glossary!

click on images to view larger
all photos in this post by Lynne Rutter, Berlin, March 2011

15 March 2011

Postcard from Berlin

Chinesisches Haus, Sanssouci, Postsdam
We've been visiting Berlin and environs for the last two weeks. Many lovely pictures. Stay tuned!

Inspiring Powder Rooms

Whistler: Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink
This week at the wonderful blog, Fauxology, written by the always effervescent Regina Garay, it's all about Powder Rooms.
I am honored to be featured in the first post in the series, all about designing for these special, small spaces.

Read how a formerly white on white bath was transformed with decorative painting and just a bit of gold leaf, and how  this painting by James McNeill Whistler inspired the design of the entire room.

Japonesque bathroom mural, faux marble floor, and 12k white gold accents by Lynne Rutter

Thanks again to Regina for featuring my work in her lovely blog! 

Interior Design: Ashley Roi Jenkins
photo by Lynne Rutter