Faux Painting in Antebellum Times
I had the pleasure , several years ago , to visit the Waverly Plantation Mansion in West Point , MS. My first impression of this stately example of Antebellum Greek Revival architecture still remains strong in my mind today; it was a breathtaking two-story structure built around a third story octagonal shaped cupola. All of the rooms in the house opened on the central area and created a natural air conditioning effect with the hot air rising up, as in a chimney, and escaping through the open windows in the top floor cupola. But the thing that so impressed me was the extensive use of faux painting techniques in the interiors. The pine doors ( pine was the most plentiful wood available in the area) were faux painted in wood grained Mahogany, Walnut or Birdseye Maple finishes and wood baseboards were painted to replicate marble. Until that visit I had not given much thought to the history of faux painting and had assumed it was a contemporary art; now I know that the art dates back millennia to the first cave paintings but the faux finishes in the decorative arts began 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia.