Sunday, March 11, 2012

Decorative Painting, Part 4: Richard Neas

Richard Lowell Neas was a decorative painter and interior designer whose work decorated some of the finest homes of the 1970s and 80s.  This project, a house on a five acre estate in San Antonio, Texas, started out as an 1880s ranch house that was remodeled in 1920s.  It was home to an art collector who often entertained on a large scale.  It was featured in SOUTHERN INTERIORS, edited by Helen C. Griffith, published by Oxmoor House, 1988, the source of all the photos here.
The Entrance Hall.
The Entrance Hall features a wood floor and wood trim painted to resemble a combination of marbles.  In addition, the inside face of the door is painted to resemble fine wood.
The Hall.
The walls and vaulted ceiling of the Hall are painted to resemble the underside of a fanciful striped tent, gracefully pulled aside at the doorways.  Again, the arched doors are painted to resemble fine wood.  (Note the olive-knuckle hinges that allow the leaves to lie flat against the walls).  The Gallery is seen to the right and the Sun Porch beyond.
The Gallery.
The Gallery is minimally furnished to showcase the owner's collection of art and allow for large gatherings.  The finish of the walls is not described in the text, but appears to be a glazed linen effect.  The floor is stained to resemble a boldly scaled neoclassical wood parquet.
The Sun Porch.
The floor of the Sun Porch is concrete, scored and glazed to appear as tiles.  (The blue & white porcelain scheme is a popular motif that appeared in a number of Mr. Neas' projects, including his home in France).
The exterior of the San Antonio project of Richard Neas.
Mr. Neas died in 1995 at age 67, but his legacy lives on with wonderful projects, such as this.  Also he is remembered for the popular trompe l'oeil wallpaper he designed for Brunschwig & Fils "Bibliotheque".


  1. John,

    Great post! Richard Neas was always one of my favorite decorators and painters.


  2. The stained floors in the dark walled gallery are most impressive.
    It's what used to be referred to as "over-graining", in other words
    the application of thinned paint or contrasting stains to supply
    an effect of inlaid parquet. It's seldom encountered, which is a shame
    really, since the effect is less aggressive than a fully painted design.

  3. Do I remember an entrance hall painted by Neas?- It was the entry to an Art Deco building in N.Y. and painted to mimic inlays of exotic woods a la Ruhlmann /Sue et Mare

  4. Dean, by the time I joined Parish-Hadley, R L Neas had developed his own clientele so I never had the opportunity to work with him on a project. I had met him and was a fan of his work, needless to say.

  5. Thanks for commenting, Toby. That is an effect that I really admire and one that would be easier to maintain, perhaps, than a fully painted floor. And I always appreciate a Greek Key border.

  6. Thomas, while that does not sound familiar, just that brief description evokes a wonderful image. Perhaps one of my Devoted Readers can provide more information.

  7. It is main think about it. Those all photos really excellent and that is an effect that i really admire and one that would be easier to maintain, perhaps, than a fully painted floor. It is informative post.


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