Imitation painting in America
- Sumpter Priddy
Also called marbling and graining, imitation painting was “the art of imitating the grain of various fancy woods and marbles” in paint (Whittock, p. 20). The practice was popular for decorating architecture from about 1700 through the early 20th century. After 1810, it was also fashionable for furniture. The first examples appeared about 1700 on the interior walls of major public buildings and in large private houses, where imitation painting tended to embody Baroque preferences for highly figured surfaces. Over time, marbling and graining spread across the social spectrum to include the middling classes, and evolved in style to reflect changing tastes.
The practice of imitation painting declined during the rational culture of mid-18th century America but experienced a resurgence after 1780, when excavations at the Roman towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii revealed painted interiors and spurred renewed interest in Classical culture among the educated. Painters attempted to imitate or allude to real wood, both in color and texture. Inspired by antiquity, imagery was generally reserved in character....