Monday, October 25, 2010

Greek Keys No. 2

My welcome mat is out,
and I'm ready to share some more Greek keys!

I was looking through a recent style magazine that had an ad for a British salvage company. There was a photo of a marvelous etched glass door in the ad, but it was more than half obscured by other salvage! To spare you my own disappointment, I've reconstructed the design, free from the distraction of all the other salvage. Don't you love the scale of the key?

This ceiling by Robert Adam graces the library of Harewood, home of the Lascelles family. King George V's daughter, The Princess Royal, married the 6th Earl of Harewood in 1922, which makes the current owner of this fine Greek key a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

 Where better to look for Greek keys than on a Greek vase?

I have several excellent books by John Boardman on Athenian figure vases of the Classical period. What I have discovered as I delve into Classical art, is that there are many, many variations of Greek keys. But when these stunning vases were at their height, these three key designs predominated.

My entire series of Greek key designs can be found on my side bar — just look for the brown stele.


  1. One of my favourite patterns ever, and you ahve chosen some great ones!

  2. Love that office door you reconstructed :-)

  3. Thanks, David and Stefan! I'm already on the lookout for Greek Keys No. 3!

  4. I cannot get enough of Greek key motifs. I think the more it is repeated in a interior, the more elegant the room becomes. I had a cocoa mat like yours until it became dirty and I tossed it. Of the three key border designs at the bottom of your post, I like the top, simplest ones the best. To my eye, when other motifs are introduced into the key, it starts to take on a revivalist, 19th century look. A strict border looks more classical, neoclassical, or Napoleonic. Greek key is more prevalent in vintage and antique things than what is currently available. I've often admired antique crystal and table linens with Greek key motifs, and these can frequently be picked up for a fraction of new things. I have a very cheap Greek key wallpaper border in my halls, and it looks great after 25 years, and makes up for a lack of cornice. One could take a sheet and put a key motif border on it and be an ancient Roman aristocrat for Halloween! Boo!

  5. Thanks for visiting, Terry! I like your idea for a cornice — I've found that Greek keys work very well above baseboards, too.

  6. I love Greece, the Greek Isles, and of course the Greek Key, so classic.

    Art by Karena

    Come and enter my fine art giveaway!

  7. oh oh oh where was i when you posted this gem!? nice!

  8. Hi, Lynne - Thanks for enjoying the greek Keys. The Greek keys icon in my sidebar includes Greek Keys Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4.

  9. Hi, Mark. As you know, since you took her to the airport, Sue is visiting me here in New Orleans. We started our day exploring your blog and this blog reminded me of a floor cloth I made years ago, not unlike the ones shown here Look forward to any research you might do on the subject. Now we are off for beignets .... :)
    Lynnette and SueBob

    1. Hi, Lynette and SueBob - I hope you're having a grand time in New Orleans and eating a beignet for me! I checked out the floor cloth site and really like what's there, including a Pompeii design. Maybe floor cloths are in my future!