In conversation with Lucy Cleland.
WEDS 27th MARCH, 5 - 6.30pm
Lacca Povera, perhaps more commonly known as Arte Povera; which literally translates to poor art, is as term which you might be surprised to find associated with some of the beautiful European furniture of the 19th and 20th Century, such as these Venetian Consoles from Newel, left,
or our Italian Commodes right. Far from showing a lack of wealth, however, this was a actually an incredibly popular finishing technique, often taken up by amateur hobbyists as well as professionals, based on the Chinoiserie craze of the time. It involved taking Asian concept and aesthetic, to some extent 'westernising' it, and recreating it in a less expensive and time-consuming manner.
As opposed to layer upon layer of lacquer being built up, along with labour intensive hand-painted designs that went into making pieces such as Coromandel screens, Lacca Povera was a much shorter process. It involved paper cut-outs, which were often purpose-made commercially printed images that might then have been hand-coloured, being applied using fish glue onto the already prepared surface. This was then varnished several times, making it difficult to distinguish the edges of the images from the surface of the object.
What once began as a less expensive, simpler version of chinese lacquer is now considered quite a rarity, often as or if not more valuable than some of the more readily available Chinoiserie pieces.
These Lacca Povera pieces lack the formality of traditional chinese decorative lacquerwork but retain the elegance of their inspirational counterparts.