Venetian Plaster History & Information

Venetian Plaster History and Information

Have you ever marveled at the beautiful glowing plaster walls of Italy? These ancient walls that grow even more beautiful with age were plastered with a technique the Italians call “Decorative Stucco”. The term “Venetian Plaster” is what we in this country use to refer to the same process. Continue for Venetian Plaster History –

Goncolier in Venice, Italy

Venetian Plaster

Many public and private buildings in Italy have walls of marble or other stone – huge, heavy slabs and blocks erected to create a wall whose exceptional beauty and elegance would endure for thousands of years.

In Venice, however, it was impossible to use marble or stone for the walls of any structure.  Architects and designers of the city built in water used stones only as necessary for load-bearing portions of the foundation. The remainder of the building had to be constructed to be as lightweight as possible.

For many years, Venetian architects and designers experimented with various methods and materials, looking for a way to finish walls to give their city the same enduring elegance as cities built on the mainland. And so “Venetian Plaster” was born.

The technique consisted of hand-applying several layers of plaster to the wall, with the last few layers creating the decorative effect. These decorative layers were of a plaster made of powdered or ground marble or limestone, thinly applied to create a wall finish that had the visual depth, richness, cool touch, and natural elegance of stone or marble.

Over time, as the lime crystallized in reaction to the air (carbonation), the plaster returned to its original state of stone, creating a wall finish that was stronger than any painted finish.

Today, Venetian Plaster has caught the attention of architects and designers worldwide.

Venetian Plaster History - Venetian Plaster Bedroom Suite by Plaster Artistry

Venetian Plaster Bedroom Suite by Plaster Artistry

Not a Faux Finish

Although some DIY companies are offering a product they call Venetian Plaster, it is usually only a faux finish. These products are typically just a very thick acrylic paint, designed to be applied using simple techniques which require no special training. While they and other faux finishes attempt to mimic the appearance of marble and stone, they fall far short of the rich stonelike look and feel available with true Venetian plaster.

Authentic Imported Italian and Venetian Plaster

Through many years of non-use, the historic Venetian plaster formulas and techniques were almost lost. But during the 1960’s and 1970’s, a small handful of pioneering Italian companies began to rediscover the plaster finishes and techniques which were traditional to their decorative heritage. By 1980, “Stucco Veneziano” (translated into English as “Venetian Plaster”) and other rediscovered unique historical decorative effects were being enthusiastically accepted by the Italian market.

Today, thanks to the efforts of this small handful of pioneers, Plaster Artistry™ is able to offer to you a large portfolio of Venetian plasters and other authentic Italian wall finishes. Our portfolio includes a wide range of looks, textures, and technical performances from only the best Italian plaster manufacturers.

Every company whose products we feature must be committed to producing only the highest quality products possible. The artisans of Plaster Artistry™ have traveled to Italy to personally meet and train with some of the finest Italian artisans; it is their companies’ plasters that we are pleased to be able to offer to you.

Plaster Artistry™ is committed to featuring only true authentic Italian and Venetian plasters that will last a lifetime.

Venetian Plaster Fireplace by Plaster Artistry

Venetian Plaster Fireplace by Plaster Artistry

The Vibrant Glowing Color

For walls that come alive with color, Plaster Artistry™ features authentic, restoration quality earth and oxide colorants, the same colorants which were used by Renaissance artists. These authentic earth pigments, in their purest crystalline form, are unlike most pigments available on the market today.

The crystalline form of authentic earth pigments will catch the light and cause your walls to glow from within — a look that is unattainable by any paint product. And the range of hues available is breathtaking — imagine the colorful splendor of the Italian Renaissance!

Authentic earth colorants were the only ones considered by the Italian government for the restoration of the frescoes in Florence’s Cathedral Dome of Brunelleschi. This beautiful building has the largest dome in the world made entirely of bricks; an architectural and engineering marvel, and vitally important piece of Italy’s art history.

So whether you choose color that is subtle or bold, your walls will come alive with beautiful, vibrant, glowing color.

Venetian Plaster History – Marmorino

Marmorino is one of the Venetian plasters which is currently gaining popularity. The word “marmorino” means, literally, “little marble”. The plaster is made of coarsely ground Carrara marble; when skillfully applied, the subtle sparkle of marble is evident.

Cool as stone to the touch, with a satiny look and feel, Marmorino gives your walls an understated elegance.

Venetian Plaster History - Marmorino Powder Room by Plaster Artistry

Marmorino Powder Room by Plaster Artistry

Mantovano – A Fascinating History

Mantovano, one of our signature finishes, is a unique and intriguing wall finish which dates back to the 11th century.

At that time, the growing city of Mantua (now Mantova), needed more space and a better defense. To meet those needs, architect Alberto Pitentino modified the flow of the River Mincio to create a moat of four artificial lakes surrounding Mantova. Wandering outside the city in those times was quite dangerous, so people would look for raw materials as close to their city walls as possible.

While the limestones used by the people of Venice came from the delta of the Brenta River close to Venice, the limestones used by the people of Mantova were pulled from their moat and the River Mincio. The limestones from the two different areas, when ground, made plasters which were quite different in character. Because of its more fluid nature, the Mantovano plaster had to be applied using a brush and a trowel.

The resulting wall finish knew great popularity during the Italian Renaissance, when the Gonzaga family ruled the city for three centuries after seizing power from the Bonacolsi family in 1328.

During the Renaissance, Mantova was one of the most important European courts, hosting artists like Pisanello, Mantegna, Perugino, Correggio, LB Alberti, Giulio Romano, Rubens, and many more. In that period the architecture of the city was deeply changed and many of Mantova’s famous palaces were built, their walls finished with the unique and intriguing Stucco Mantovano.

During the centuries after the Renaissance, the city of Mantova lost popularity and declined, and the Stucco Mantovano finish and technique were lost.

One of our suppliers, located less than 50km from Mantova, could not let such a unique traditional wall finish disappear. After years of research in the libraries of Mantova they found the original application technique and important clues to its formulation. After more lab work they were able to bring back to life the Mantovano wall finish.

With Stucco Mantovano, you can have in your home a piece of the unique history of one of the wealthiest and most powerful cities of the Italian Renaissance.

Venetian Plaster History - Mantovano Barrel Ceiling by Plaster Artistry

Mantovano Barrel Ceiling by Plaster Artistry

The Unique Wall

The demand for decorative plasters in the high-end market is gaining momentum. Architects and designers are looking for a wall finish with a unique signature, and authentic Italian plasters are the answer.

Skillfully applied to both interior and exterior walls, they show the hand that applied them by subtle variations in color, texture, and sheen. The uniqueness and beauty of your walls cannot be matched, and they will only grow more beautiful with age.

Venetian Plaster History - Gondolas in a Storm

Venetian Gondolas in the face of a storm.

Thank you for reading our Venetian Plaster History.