Whether your a home owner who is renovating a period property, an architect who has a project for a client or someone with an interest in period features, this article will help you see the bigger picture of the history of decorative plaster ceiling roses. From when they started to appear on our ceilings and why, the different styles used, and the different eras they were used in.
Decorative plaster ceiling roses are beautiful. We love them. We’re not the only ones. People who are involved in period renovations also fall in love with them as they begin the process of sourcing and finding a match for their interior design projects. The first question for those people is normally ‘what style of ceiling rose do I need for my house’, with that in mind lets first look at when the first decorative ceiling roses began to be used and then see how the style changed over time.
To be able to have a decorative plaster ceiling rose, you need a ceiling! By this I mean flat ceilings as opposed to bare joists. During the Tudor and Jacobean times from 1485 to 1600 the transition from bare wooden joist to ‘suspended ceilings’ began. ceilings became another place for people to decorate to there taste, display wealth, show off to their guests. First the ceilings had simple grid like decoration, with the trade mark dark tudor beams. Grided beams evolved into more geomtric strapwork, ribs and battens added to the flat ceiling.
So when how did the decorative plaster ceiling rose evolve?
The points where decorative ribs and battens met on the ceiling gave the interior designers of the day another place to add new decorative elements. Simple rosettes grew into elaborate pendants of circular form which marked the beginning of elaborate ceilings. in the mid 1600’s fine decorative ceilings of royal homes incorporated crests and badges that were often given a central location in the ceiling. You can see how the development of decorative pendants and central crests and badges morphed into the wonderful decorative ceiling rose that lived on until the modern day.
Now lets take a look at the ceiling rose in different eras.
The Baroque ceiling rose 1625 – 1714
Decorative ceiling roses were only just starting to be used in this period. Only affluent homes had plastered ceilings and those ceilings were generally very ornate. If there was a central decorative rose it would have probably been oval with romantic, elaborate, floral swirls and central pendant.
The early Georgian ceiling rose 1714 – 1765
Ceiling decoration began to take the shape of the ceilings we see today in so many period homes. The surface usually has a cornice at the edge and circular element in the centre. palladian detail surpassed the fashion for the bolde ornamental style that reigned the previous era. The detail was shallower in relief and more delicate. As well as classical motifs, Rococo style also had influence, expect bird, leave and shell details. Neo classical detailing also can be seen in many decorative plaster roses of this time.
The Late Georgian ceiling rose 1765 – 1830
Late Georgian decorative roses continued to be embellished with classic elements. Robert Adams was particularly influential in this era and he bought a grandeur based on Roman precedents. Swags, ribbons, urns, crossed weapons, wreaths and rosettes are so typical of this era. Humbler ceilings of the the mid to lower upper classes had details picked from interior design books based on palatial interiors. decorative plaster ceiling roses began to become common in ‘normal’ homes.
The Regency ceiling rose 1811 – 1820
The regency era was a small sub era of the Georgian period. All over ceiling decoration began to fall out of fashion but decorative plaster ceiling rose began to take center stage. Often the plaster roses became the only element on the ceiling. The Embellishment became bolder. It became floral. Delicate swags were replaced with thick outward radiating petals, Greek designs, and arabesques were also popular.
The Victorian ceiling rose 1837 – 1901
The decorative plaster ceiling rose had now become an essential part of ceiling decoration. Even in modest houses, ceiling roses would be coupled with plain cornicing in most rooms and more elaborate embellishments in the main areas such as the entrance hall, and drawing room. the Victorian era was not a time to be shy with interior design. Newly rich middle classes wanted to show off wealth. Flowers, fruits, flying birds, festoons and of course the acanthus leaf were often used. Another reason the decorative ceiling rose made its way into every home was the invention of fibrous plaster. This method allowed decorative ceiling roses to be cast in a workshop and sold ‘off the shelf’ as opposed to the costly method of making them in situ. Casting roses also allowed for deep multidimensional embellishments that really stood out, square dentils also became easier to add, as well as intricate scrolls.
The Edwardian ceiling rose 1901 – 1914
Many people assume Edwardian decorative plaster roses were very plain, this was not, on the whole the case. Cornices tended to be seen as ‘non-essential’ and this reflected in their plainer appearance but roses were still ornate. Georgian styles were very popular and the Victorian styles also continued. Radiating palmettes, bold swags, and enriched edges were the norm.