An 1880s Italianate mansion overlooking the Yarra at Studley Park, Villa Alba houses one of the most important examples of late nineteenth century decoration in Australia. Now a museum, the mansion features rare hand-painted, stencilled and gilded decoration by renowned Scottish-trained interior designers, the Paterson Brothers.
Completed in 1884, the vestibule is decorated with two forty-foot painted panoramic murals of Sydney Harbour and Edinburgh, with the ceilings and friezes of the principal rooms elaborately decorated with hand-painted and stencilled designs. It is one of the Paterson Brothers’ first interiors to depart from the use of pre-prepared wallpapers of repetitive designs and it is a rare surviving example of their domestic work.
Along with significant references to Scottish history and culture, Villa Alba combines French Rococo, Medieval, Neo-Classical and both Italian and English Renaissance influences, as well as featuring stylised natural motifs and trompe l’oeil. Following extensive research, Villa Alba’s gardens have been re-interpreted to reflect its late 19th century origins.
The Paterson Brothers work also includes the State Parliament Library, the Trades Hall Council Chamber and the Ballroom and Private Apartments at Government House, as well as commissions at Melbourne Town Hall, Prahran Public Library and The Palace Hotel in Bourke Street.
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Photos: Russell Winnell.