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Italian Renaissance Style

The Italian Renaissance style was only used twice on Titanic, both located amidship on B and C deck within the most luxurious first class staterooms also known as the 'millionaire suites'. B-53 was on B deck and located within the famous Parlour Suite as one of the bedroom styles, and the other was C-82 on C deck port side. Both had very similar designs and materials incorporating the Italian Renaissance style.

The Italian Renaissance style was a fourteenth century style that incorporated the combination of religion, art, science and philosophy. Humanity was braking the feudal fetters and a new social life was coming through, stimulated by the study of the ancient arts, new sciences and wider propagation of the Christian religion.

A bedroom from the Palazzo Davanzati, Florence, Italy 1500s

The Italian Renaissance was based on classic Greek and Roman motifs liberally interpreted in combination with cartouche, strapwork and shields, and Crusader motifs. The Centaur, half man half horse, was frequently seen, as were female forms, birds, animals, and trophies.

Furniture was usually of oak, willow, sycamore, chestnut, ebony or walnut, and sometimes highly carved, and painted with gilt. Italian inlay work was very typical of this style, and used combinations of different woods, ivory, and metals to depict floral ornaments, landscapes and buildings. Woods were chosen that were particularly dramatic and veined in their grains and were enhanced with inlays and carvings. Discoveries of the stucco's of ancient Rome aroused the Italian architects to a spirit of emulation and mural work became extravagantly elaborate. Works of Raphael and his followers were often applied to wall decorations, depicting triumphant and religious scenes or the wealth of knowledge and education as well as superb craftsmanship and details.

Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio, Italy ca.1478-82

In the 19th Century a new revival of the Italian Renaissance was starting, and lasted until the beginning of the twentieth century. This is called the Renaissance Revival style often referred to as the Neo Italian Renaissance style. This went hand-in-hand with more people having access to education, the advancement of science, and the further discovery of the ancient arts. This then inspired a new generation of artists and architects that created this revival trend. This was first seen in northern Europe then spread to the east coast of the US where it became particularly popular with the wealthiest Americans. The gilded age of the late Victorians and early Edwardian's favored the ostentatious style for their mansions, which is probably why the Titanic's interior designers, Mutters and Zoon decided to use this style within the stateroom catalogue.

A Gilded age New York City apartment in the Neo Italian Renaissance style 1900s

You could class Titanic's Italian renaissance as part of the revival trend as apposed to imitating the original renaissance. As this was the current trend, It definitely incorporates more flavours of the revival, and would have been seen as very modern and of the best taste, to attract the wealthy Americans that favored the style.

The Rotunda, Texas state Capitol Building, USA 1885

The Breaker, Newport, Rhode Island, USA 1895

Titanic's interpretation used satinwood for its dramatic fabric-like grain for all of the woodwork paneling and furniture. as well as inlays in the wall friezes and furniture. It incorporated Italian style carvings, with strong triumphant, imperial shapes. Emphasising Italian craftsmanship and ancient arts with modern Edwardian comforts. It is likely why this style was used within the Parlour suite, one of the most expensive suites onboard.

Both staterooms of this style had a double and single bed at opposite sides of the cabin. On Olympic they were in a twin bed arrangement together.

Italian Renaissance stateroom on Olympic

The beds were of oak with inlay of satinwood and sycamore. Large decoratively carved head and foot boards, with the headboard being most elaborate with a carved shield and ribbon details.

A washbasin was provided within a satinwood cabinet that matched the wall paneling, and had a contrasting veined marble top.

An artists illustration of the Italian Renaissance stateroom on Olympic

On Olympic, a free standing wardrobe was provided, but Titanic's suites both had walk-in wardrobes allowing for extra room within the cabin.

A large decorative dressing table was provided with a pivoting mirror above decorated with Italian inlays and satinwood to match the rest of the room. The dressing table had nine drawers as well as two drawers below the mirror.

An auction photograph of Olympic's Italian Renaissance stateroom dressing table.

The ceiling was coffered and painted white with a cut glass bowl ceiling light in the center.

Furniture was upholstered in saturated blue and green silks, and carpeted in a patterned deep blue carpet.

Satinwood wall panel from one of the Italian Renaissance rooms on Olympic

My interpretation of the Italian Renaissance style B53 specifically on Titanic

On Titanic, The Cardeza family occupied the Parlour suite, and most likely Mr Thomas Cardeza occupying the B-53 bedroom. Mr Widener occupied the other Italian Renaissance stateroom, C-82.

Do you like the Italian Renaissance style? Let me know in the comments below.

Written by Chris Walker of RMSTitanic.Design

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