Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gorgeous Grisaille!

(down east dilettante)
Grisaille painting and wall papers have always been a love of mine. Grisaille (pronounced "griz eye") is the french word for shades of grey. This monochromatic technique was done both because artists could travel and do the work with out supplies, and the Grisaille painting could be a sample and/or under painting over which pigments could be applied.
Linda Coulter, a wonderful painter explains in her website: This concept was developed many centuries ago when pigments were very scarce. The Old Masters had only a handful of pigments to accomplish their beautiful results so they had to push each individual pigment to its fullest capacity to be able to achieve the luminosity in their art work that made them famous. In those days when pigments were extremely expensive, and it was also a way to save money. A sister to Grisaille is the less known Brunaille - which is in shades of brown. Below are some of my favorite examples.
The first is Martha Stewart's entry hall in her Turkey Hill House. This large mural stopped me in my tracks the first time I saw it . Lovely!
Here a common suburban two story entry turns extraordinary with this hand painted design.(down east dilettante)
This historic house turned museum is in Portsmouth, NH. The Moffat-Ladd house mural is likely Dufour wall paper from early 1900's, which depicts the Bay of Naples. To learn more about this wonderful house click here.

(architect design)

Here antique wall paper panels found at the Louvre are stunning. Read more about them on Architect Design here.

(Cote de Texas via Edie van Breems)

One of my favorite images is from Cote de Texas via Edie van Breems of Libby Holsten's home click here. The curves of Mora clock wonderfully compliment the mural behind it.

I love the room above, though not traditionally Grisaille or Brunaille, the addition of the shades of green and the side panel painting make for a gorgeous wall.

I adore this 18 century hand blocked Grisaille wall paper from Wendy Lewis at the Textile Trunk. You may not be aware of this, but Wendy also has a gorgeous selection of rare antique wallpapers.

This particular piece took my breath away! It is just stunning in shades of cream and gray. I envision it framed in my Living room or Dining room like a rare work of art, or perhaps I could cover a screen with it. Oh the possibilities!
(photos above Textile Trunk)
Though Wendy does not always list every gorgeous paper she has (her wallpapers move fast and are in great demand by her interior designer buyers) send her an email and she will let you know what treasures she has recently found. Click here to contact Wendy.
If you do decide to buy this let me know how you use it. But if its sold by the time you read this, you may end up seeing it in one of my clients homes or even in my own house because I just can't stop thinking about it!!


  1. I've seen that Martha Stewart photo, LOVE it! Just gorgeous.
    p.s. I am having a Bare Minerals giveaway if it interests you! xo

  2. Stunning and very big! They really are the feature in the room, and I really like the mural wall idea!
    :) Flick

  3. I love them too, such great photos, thanks.

  4. Truly a gorgeous art form! Thanks for the images!

  5. Thanks for this lovely post and reminding me again. I have entirely forgotten about this wonderful decorative art.
    Greetings, Petra

  6. Your style of presentation is very impressive. The meaningful contribution of your mind reflects on those people who are looking for new ideas and informations regarding Art Gallery Paintings. I would like to tweet on it and keep spying at every moment you blogging.

  7. These are so gorgeous, I've seen them many times, thanks for filling me in on the background info about them, and for showcasing all these beauties!

  8. Wonderful and thanks for reminding us of the term!

  9. I think my favorite image here is the Mora clock. Absolutely lovely. Thank You for sharing!

  10. Inspiring! I used this technique in a restaurant design once upon a time. Just beautiful!

  11. Beautiful! I've been dying to paper the powder room in my master bath (which is gray, white and wenge) and been having trouble finding the right look...I think this is it!

    Btw, thanks for visiting Odi et Amo today!

  12. So very beautiful and I just adore the 18th much character!

  13. I am a big fan of grisaille always looks so elegant, xv.

  14. Beautiful images and such a striking treatment in any space. I'm wondering what a modern interpetation might look like? With gray being such a popular color (or non-color) it might be fun to see this technique accomplished with a modern theme....hmmmmm.....

  15. You always have the best posts. I often wondered if the new owners of Turkey Hill painted over the entry.

  16. I love this look and as an artist have used it! Beautiful images!

    Art by Karena

  17. Hello Gina~
    I adore grisaille. From the moment I first saw it in art classes. In the past, I have used the technique, but love a bit more taupe rather than too gray.
    That wallpaper is smashing!

  18. First time I hear of the term - "Grisaille". But that is why I love coming here - to learn!

    I became friends with Edie and Rhonda when I lived in CA, and their client/friend Libby (who you mentioned) has a table that partly was the inspiration for the design of my apple crown!

    What a small and fun world!

    Happy 4th to you and your beautiful family.

    oxox, blog sis Mon

  19. Thanks for the great information and the inspiring images! - The Arkansan Anglophile

  20. I just love grisailles! Thank you for the beautiful pictures!

  21. So beautiful! I really love how they transformed what could have been a very ordinary two-story foyer into something special. Very inspiring!

  22. Very interesting....I had never heard of this before....and now I know...smiles.


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