Amanda and Alan’s Italian job

Just south of the Renaissance birthplace of Florence is a charming town called Impruneta. It’s famous for its exquisite terracotta pottery, its delightful piazzas and a multitude of classic medieval houses that cling precariously to the sides of steep mountain foothills. It is the quintessential Tuscan dream location.

Jan 29, 2024
Rebecca Lord
Rebecca Lord
Senior Digital Marketing Manager

With 15 years experience in Digital Marketing, Rebecca knows a thing or two about getting our products in front of people who are ready to start their next decorating project. Rebecca is obsessed with all things home décor related and loves how easy it is to completely transform a room with just a handful of products. From mood boarding on Pinterest to final accessories and personal touches, Rebecca loves bringing ideas to life – a true Home Interiors enthusiast!

Crane the Renaissance of Venus Bespoke Mural.jpg

Just south of the Renaissance birthplace of Florence is a charming town called Impruneta. It’s famous for its exquisite terracotta pottery, its delightful piazzas and a multitude of classic medieval houses that cling precariously to the sides of steep mountain foothills. It is the quintessential Tuscan dream location.

As part of the Italian government’s drive to bring new life into the rural areas of the country, some of its houses are part of the ‘a house for one Euro’ scheme, allowing people to buy dilapidated properties in desperate need of renovation for just one Euro.

It’s an opportunity that Amanda Holden and Alan Carr couldn’t resist, so as part of their highly successful BBC series ‘Amanda and Alan’s Italian Job’, their next project house is right in the heart of Impruneta. And this time, Graham & Brown has been a part of the intrepid duo's latest restoration adventure. Our team supplied the magnificent mural, The Renaissance of Venus’ by Walter Crane. This ethereal work of art was inspired by the Birth of Venus by Botticelli, one of the greatest masters of the Renaissance.

Amanda and Alan’s Italian Job pulls together a team of interior experts, from builders and plumbers to electricians and plasterers, to uncover years of neglect and reveal the true beauty of these incredible buildings. Throw into the mix the ideas that the dynamic duo come up with, along with the inspiration of the utterly gorgeous Tuscan surroundings and you have a match made in heaven.

In the latest series, the home includes an ancient tower that needs some serious love and attention. Amanda has a vision for this magnificent part of the house – a showstopping bathroom that includes that incredible mural from Graham & Brown.

Where is the wall mural from in Amanda and Alan’s Italian job?

Walter Crane was an English artist and illustrator, best known as one of his generation's most influential children's book illustrators. Crane was hugely influenced by the Renaissance masters, including Botticelli, and the marvels of the Renaissance period inspired his work for most of his life.

One of his greatest works is the Renaissance of Venus, painted in 1877. This exquisite piece was inspired by his exposure to the Botticelli masterpiece while in Florence in 1871, where he spent a balmy summer on honeymoon with his new wife, Mary. Upon seeing the 15th-century original, he was determined to create his own homage to Botticelli’s enchanting and famous painting, portraying Venus at her birth as a fully grown woman and emerging from the sea.

Although markedly different to the original, the Renaissance of Venus is a superb painting in its own right and the original now hangs in the Tate gallery in London.

Murals that celebrate the Renaissance

Graham & Brown have a reputation for producing murals of exquisite quality, and Crane's Renaissance of Venus is no exception. The painting has been reproduced in exceptional detail, with no loss of quality or clarity. It's a replication of Crane's original artwork, right down to the last brushstroke.

As every wall mural we produce is specifically made to the dimensions requested by the customer, it was easy for us to produce one that would sit proudly in Amanda’s incredible and classically inspired bathroom. It was a pleasure for our mural creators at Graham & Brown to work with the team. With our help, they delivered what turned out to be one of the most talked-about feature in the entire project.

Amanda and Alan's Italian Job Wall Mural

Getting the room ready for a goddess

When Amanda and Alan’s Italian Job first took on the house in Impruneta, they didn’t realise quite how much work was needed to bring this one Euro property up to scratch. The tower, home to Amanda’s dream Renaissance bathroom, had to undergo a major renovation. Years of crumbling plaster had to be removed to reveal the stone tower walls on one side and to prepare the surface for the mural on the other.

Once the wall was replastered and allowed to dry thoroughly, it was ready for the team to hang the mural. As all of our murals utilise our Paste The Wall technology, this was far easier than trying to manoeuvre wet, pasted paper into position.

After Amanda applied a generous amount of paste to the wall with a roller, it was time to hang the first drop. That was the easy part. What then took a little more time and care was ensuring all of the subsequent drops lined up millimetre-perfect; otherwise, Venus' hand would look decidedly odd!

Slowly and carefully, smoothing each drop down with a sponge to remove any air bubbles, Crane’s homage to the Renaissance masters came to life. Venus looked absolutely stunning, surrounded by simple white balancing walls and a feature bare stone wall. A dazzling gold floor, a floral glass orb chandelier, and a classic rolltop bath complemented the look. The bathroom was completed with a large and ornate gold-framed mirror.

A triumph of interior design

Each room in the house was superbly finished, but everyone agreed (including Alan, although somewhat reluctantly!) that Amanda’s incredible bathroom was the pièce de résistance. Crane’s fabulous Venus was a huge hit, proving that a magnificent bathroom is easy to achieve with a little bit of patience and a bespoke mural.

The thought and care that went into the design were matched by the quality of workmanship to bring the room (and indeed the whole house) up to code. Crumbling walls were restored to their former glory, and the house’s striking original features were given a new lease of life.

Amanda and Alan’s Italian Job has one last wonderful twist – the house will be sold and all of the profits will be split between Comic Relief and Children in Need, enabling good causes and groups across the UK and beyond to carry on helping children and young people.

Crane was a beloved children’s illustrator, and at Graham & Brown, we like to think that the use of his mural in such a worthwhile project would have delighted him.

The second season of Amanda and Alan's Italian Job can be seen on the BBC and is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now. Watch for our beautiful Venus, and go to our murals section to see what other Tate masterpieces could grace your Renaissance bathroom.

Amanda and Alan's bathroom