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Design Art, Arabesque en Grisaille, Antique Watercolor, 19th Century


Arabesque Design
Continental: 19th Century
Watercolor and gouache, en grisaille, on paper
8.5 x 11.5 inches
9.5 x 12.5 inches, overall including supporting sheet
Provenance: James R. Lamantia, Jr.

A Baroque style arabesque architectural painting, executed en grisaille, in brown and gray tones with gold highlights and heightened with white. The design is a tour de force of swirling scrolls and classical motifs incorporating a central figure standing on a platform, surrounded by intricate curving intertwined plant and foliate motifs and flanked by two seated cupids.

Product Description Continues Below.


Arabesque designs such as this are characteristic of those of the Baroque period — exemplified by those of the French ornament engraver Jean Bérain (1637-1711). His designs, in turn, had been inspired, in part, by Italian Renaissance motifs. Bérain’s style of arabesques and grotesque figures later developed into the Rococo style and was popular in the 19th century as well, particular in the Renaissance Revival period.This work may have been done as a drafting exercise by an architecture student, possibly copied from a Baroque source. It also might have been intended as design inspiration for an architectural element, or for decorative arts such as fabrics, wallpaper, ceramics or metal work.

Provenance: James Lamantia, Jr. (1923-2011). At the time of his death, Lamantia was Emeritus Professor of Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans. He was also a practicing architect, and an artist.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual light toning, wear, soft creases. Later mounted on off-white supporting sheet, providing margins.


Cullison, William R. III, and Lamantia, James. An Eye for Architecture: Architectural and Decorative Drawings from the Collection of James Lamantia. New Orleans: Southeastern Architectural Archive, Tulane University Library, September 16 to October 31, 1984.

Additional information


19th Century