Venetian plaster is a relatively recent name for a much older practice of decoration historically known as "scagliola" it derives its name from small particles [splinters] of marble, which are incorporated into its body or mix.
It is also sometimes called "mischia", meaning many mixtures of color.
Examples of this material have been found on the walls of Egyptian and Greek tombs and it was described in the writings of Pliny during the Roman Empire. In the wealthy Renaissance period many buildings were adorned with this decorative finish in an attempt to reflect the opulence during the same period.
The finest examples of this art are to be found in Venice, which have stood the ravages of time, sun and weather without sign of decay. Hence the name Venetian plastering.Venetian plastering was introduced into this country during the mid Victorian period, and was used extensively on many notably civic and private buildings. It it has also been used on the walls of the grand staircase at Buckingham Palace, also the Throne Room which has a range of columns of bright scarlet, and others of rich blue.
Venetian plaster is one of the most beautiful parts of decorative plaster work, and it is regrettable that there has not been a greater revival of such a charming art form in this country until recently, its decline during the later part of the Victorian period was greatly due to its manufacturing restrictions imposed by monopolists, who kept the method a secret until it was looked upon as a mystery, which greatly enhanced its cost.
Through information now at hand, combined with practical experience and enterprise, this artisan craft is quite the rave amongst those who appreciate a high end natural finish to compliment their design. Architects, designers and private clientele are adopting this finish and it shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.