"Brâncovenesc" Style

The name Brancoveanu style or Brancovenian art has evolved in the Romanian historiography of architecture art and fine arts in Wallachia during the reign of Constantin Brancoveanu (1688-1714). Because this period has decisively influenced later developments, by extension, the term is used to describe works of art from the time of the first Mavrocordat up to 1730.

 Art historians regularly characterize the Brancoveanu style by analogy with the rebirth of Western style, thanks to its clear, rationalist structure, but his decorative exuberance allows the use of the term Baroc Brancovenesc.

Constantin Brâncoveanu


The brancovenian style is distinguished by its architectural expressiveness of volumes offered by the exterior stairs, the gazebo or by the loggias, which varies in picturesque way the facade appearance. The traditional system of beading decoration with arches is still applied, but enriched by the ornamentation of frames, columns and railings with vegetable motifs of baroque influence. The proportions are more slender and harmonious, and prove a more careful elaboration of plans. Both the decor and the open spaces, structured on columns, denies the massive architectural forms; the open porch for example, arrives to be a representative element of the buildings. The vaulting is usually in half-cylinder or hemispherical domes. The decor can be carved in stone or applied under the form of stucco. In the stone decoration predominates the floral motifs, in stucco are common the oriental ornaments.


The palaces from the brancovenian era were built especially near water table within rectangular enclosures. The gate and household annexes were usually on the opposite side to the residence, which was organized on two levels above a high basement. The buildings socket usually included the ground floor. The palaces had on the yard side a gazebo with a stair and on the lake side the loggia. Equipped with water adducts, bathrooms and toilets, royal residences offered an unparalleled comfort for those days.

  • Summer residence of Constantin Brancoveanu in Potlogi (1698)
  • Mogosoaia Palace (1702) in Bucharest, restored and modified by Martha Bibescu
  • Old Metropolitan Palace (1654-1708), Bucharest


Mogosoaia Palace


The exterior of the churches corresponds with rich decor of the iconostasis situated inside, densely decorated with reliefs.

  • Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest (1655-1685) represents the stage preceding Brâncovenu style during the reign of Serban Cantacuzino.
  • Former Monastery Assumption Church (1691-1697) in Ramnicu Sarat, Assumption Church in Bordesti, jud. Vrancea (1698-1699)
  • Church of St. George the New (1698-1707) in Bucharest Fundenii Church Lady (1699) in Bucharest
  • Former monastery church in Baia de Arama (1699)
  • Vădeni Church (1700) in Targu Jiu
  • Colţea Church (1702) in Bucharest
  • Antim Monastery Church (1713-1715) in Bucharest
  • Stavropoleos Church (1724-1730) in Bucharest


Monasteries Horezu and Văcăreşti typical for Brancoveanu assemblies are oriented to the east-west axis.

  • Cotroceni Monastery (1679), Bucharest, demolished in 1985.
  • Sinaia Monastery (1690-1695)
  • Horezu Monastery (1690-1702), one of the most ambitious projects of the brancovenian era. By imposing dimensions and unitary conception this project is revolutionary for old Romanian arts. The entire complex is subordinated to principles of symmetry typical for the Italian Renaissance, denoted by the organization of architectural volumes on the the main east-west axis and by the architecture proportions balanced in detail. Right in the center of the enclosure rises the slender silhouette of the church, which is based on the planimetric and spatial model presented by the Episcopal Church of the Court of Arges. The craftsmen who contributed to the decoration of the church are immortalized in a votive painting situated on the porch of the cult, they come out of anonymity medieval.
  • Berca Monastery (1694)
  • Mamu Monastery (1696)
  • Govora Monastery (1701-1702)
  • Surpatele Monastery (1706)
  • Antim Monastery (1713-1715)
  • Văcăreşti Monastery Bucharest (1716-1722), demolished between 1984 and 1986.


In the painting era penetrates for the first time profane motifs, for example the portrait, represented in series in vast galleries of votive character or historical compositions like the Journey of Brancoveanu to Constantinople from Mogoșoaia Palace, while traditional religious paintings were enriched by new iconographic themes thanks to the spread of written culture taken from the apocryphal writings and patristic literature. New is also the trend towards a narrative style, in spite of the monumental- representative character of the paintings. This trend is first felt in the moldovian painting at Suceviţa [21]. Decorative elements that abound in ornaments and monumental are meet in the painting environment. The main school of brancovenian painting is the Monastery Hurezi, and the outstanding representatives of this style are Parvu Mutu and painter Constantinos.

The strongest influence that enriches the tradition of post-Byzantine era is exercised by the so-called Italo-Cretan School. Iconographic themes are influenced by Western painting.

The painting masterpieces in the brancovenian style are:

  • The decoration of the church Lady of Bucharest (1688-1689, Greek painter Constantinos executed in collaboration with John)
  • The murals of Hurezi Monastery (1692-1694) is the masterpiece of brancoveanian style. Although it can be distinguish, both documentary and stylistic, that more than one painter contributed to the entire assembly, the overall décor is subordinate to a unitary conception. The main craftsman was Constantinos.
  • Cantacuzino family votive painting executed by Parvu Mutu, at Filipeştii de Pădure (1692).

Constantin Brancoveanu and family - Hurezi


Sculpture like in the medieval times is subordinate to architecture, to which bonds organic. The decorative-monumental sculpture covers densely the frames of doors and windows and columns. Strongly influenced by the Baroque style, has lead to the dominance of vegetal motifs composed in stalks. But Western Baroque elements are organically integrated into local art, for instance the eccentric dynamism that characterizes the art is missing. In the brancovanian era appear for the first time anthropomorphic motifs, for example in bas-relief ornamentation of Bucharest churches Fundenii Lady (1699) Coltea (1700) and Stavropoleos (1724 to 1730), or in the church of the former monastery of Berca and in the church of the former monastery of Văcăreşti. During the eighteenth century the monumental sculpture in the brancovenian style has undergone a continuous bastardization, that can be seen in the decoration of churches in Brădeşti, Dolj and Baia de Fier or in the church Schitul Balamuci.

Baroque influence is also reflected in the scenery that grows more abundant on the curbs of tombstones. These are often highlighted by the family emblems with the inscription usually placed in a central registry, for example the tombstones of Matthew and Iordache Cantacuzino, at Cotroceni, the Cantacuzino Balasei and the patriarch Dionysius (both from Targoviste). In woodcarving prevails the floral ornament, noticeable are the doors of the monastery Horezu and the ones of the Stavropoleos Church in Bucharest. In iconostasis are frequent floral motifs, sometimes with animal figures, but it can be found and the representation of Ieseu.

Sosurce pfoto+text: wikipedia.org