A-C

Acanthus

Acanthus is a common plant form that is replicated to create foliage ornamentation and/or decoration. Often the ornament is carved or molded in stone or wood to resemble and mimic the leaves of the Mediterranean species of the Acanthus genus of plants, which have deeply cut leaves with some similarity to those of the thistle and poppy. Both Acanthus mollis and the still more deeply cut Acanthus spinosus have been claimed as the main model, and particular examples of the motif may be closer in form to one or the other species. The leaves of both are in any case rather variable in form. In Ancient Greek architecture acanthus ornament appears extensively in the capitals of the Corinthian and Composite orders, and applied to friezes, dentils and other decorated areas.

 

Aletheia

Aletheia (from Greek, translated as “unclosedness,” “unconcealedness” and/or “disclosure”) literally means the state of not being hidden; the sate of being evident. Aletheia implies sincerity, as well as factuality or reality. Explored by Martin Heidegger and closely related to the phenoemenon of world disclosure, aletheia as an orientation or comportment is an attempt to make sense of how things (i.e., entities) appear in the world as part of an opening in intelligibility. Distinct from conceptions of truth understood as statements which accurately describe a state of affairs (i.e., correspondence), or statements which properly fit into a system taken as a whole (i.e., coherence), aletheia is instead a focus on the elucidation of how an ontological “world” is disclosed, or an opening up in which entities are made intelligible for human beings as part of a holistically structured background of meaning. The phenomenon of a work of art is its ability to unconceal or open up a clearing for the appearance of things in the world and to disclose their meaning for human beings. 

 

Antiquary

An antiquarian or antiquary is one who collects, studies or is an expert in antiques, antiquity, relics or things of the past. Often in modern usage, an antiquarian is a person who deals with or collects rare and ancient books, inscriptions, monuments, remains of ancient habitations, statues, coins and etc. The term also applies to those who have studied history with specific attention to “antiques,” meaning ancient objects of art or science as physical traces of the past, such as artifacts or fossils. Antiquarianism is believed to have emerged in the Middle Ages. At some point during the 19th century, antiquarianism bifurcated into the academic disciplines of archaeology and philology. 

 

Anthemion

An anthemion or palmette (from Greek, dimutive of anthemon; flower, from anthos) is an aesthetic and/or decorative motif resembling the fan-shaped leaves of a palm tree; a floral ornament. It was commonly employed in the Greek and Roman era. It is also known as the honeysuckle ornament, based on its resemblance to that flower. The palmette is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt, and was originally based on features of various flowers, including papyrus and the lotus or lily representing lower and upper Egypt and their fertile union, prior to becoming associated with the palm tree. 

B

Basaltes

Basaltes (also known as Black Basaltes) are a kind of stoneware named after the volcanic rock basalt and manufactured by Josiah Wedgwood at Etruria, Staffordshire, England from about 1768. Wedgwood’s black basalts ware were an improvement on the stained earthenware known as “Egyptian black” made by other Staffordshire potters. The fine-grained basalts stoneware reflected Wedgwood’s Neoclassicism: its dense, uniform surface, requiring no glaze, was polished to a dull gloss. The ornament was usually intricate and well-defined, often in complex geometric designs and either molded, applied or incised by turning on a lathe.

 

Bid

A bid is a formal proposal to buy something at a specified price. A bid, also referred to as a set price, reserve price or estimated price, is a monetary value that is determined by an auction house after they have found a collector willing to pay the bid price. Some auctions have a phantom bid or fake bid, also known as a “chandelier bid,” an act and/or performance during an auction in which a bid is announced by the bid caller for which there is no bona fide offer or bidder. Chandelier bids are made by bid callers to keep bidding processes “active” and prices moving upward. Chandelier bids are a form of manipulation that are intended to augment the monetary or market value of a Lot. Phantom bidding is illegal but is rarely caught.

C

Candelabra

A candelabra is a set of multiple decorative or ornamental candlesticks, or branched candlesticks, each of which holds a candle on its multiple arms or branches connected to a column or pedestal. A single member of such a set is known as candelabrum (e.g., the Jewish menorah). While useless today because of modern electrical interior lighting, candle-burning candelabra and candlesticks are still used in homes as accessories, props, or as part of interior design. Since electrification, the collective term candelabra, has become a common designation for small-based incandescent light bulbs used in chandeliers and other primarily decorative lighting fixtures.

 

Cartouche

A cartouche (from Italian, cartoccia), is an oval or oblong design with a slightly convex surface, edged with ornamental scrollwork. It is used to hold a painted or low relief design. In Early Modern design andsince the early 16th century, a cartouche is a scrolling framed device. Such cartouches are characteristically stretched, pierced and scrolling. The term is also used for an oval frame enclosing the hieroglyphs of the name of an Egyptian sovereign, as well as for the amulet of similar design worn in ancient Egypt as a protection against the loss of ones name or identity. In cartography a cartouche is a decorative emblem or a globe on a map, and may contain the title, printers address, date of publication or creation, the scale of the map and legends, and sometimes a dedication. The design of such cartouches differ according to the cartographer and period style.

Cruet

A cruet is a small flat-bottomed vessel with a narrow neck that holds water, wine, oil or vinegar for the table. Cruets often have an integral lip or spout, and may also have a handle. Unlike a small carafe, a cruet has a stopper or lid. Cruets are normally made from glass, ceramic, or stainless steel.  Its culinary use was first introduced in the late 17th century, and it is speculated that the earliest use of cruets was ecclesiastical.  

 

Chippendale

Chippendale is a mid-Georgian, English Rococo, and Neoclassical style of design owed to the London cabinet-maker and furniture designer Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779). Chippendale’s designs are regarded as establishing the fashion for furniture for the period of its time and his design style and aesthetic approach were used and appropriated by many other cabinet makers. In 1754 Chippendale published a book of his designs titled The Gentleman and the Cabinet Makers Director.

 

Chinoserie

A French term, signifying “Chinese-esque” refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the 17th century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences. It is characterized by the use of fanciful imagery of an imaginary China, asymmetrical in format and whimsical contrasts of scale, and by the attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain and the use of lacquer-like materials and decoration. It is the imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art, furniture, and architecture. The term is applied particularly to art of the 18th century, when pseudo-Chinese designs in a whimsical or fantastic vein were an aspect of the prevailing light hearted Rococo style. By the middle of the 18th century, the enthusiasm for things Chinese affected virtually all the decorative arts, and there was also a vogue for Chinese style in the second half of the century, but there was also a revival in the early 19th century.

 

D-H

Decanter

A decanter is a vessel that is used to hold the decantation of a liquid that may contain sediment. Decanters are normally used as serving vessels for wine. Decanters vary in shape and design. They are usually made of an inert material (e.g., glass) and will hold at least one standard bottle of wine (0.75 Litre). A similar kind of vessel, the carafe, is used for serving wine as well as other drinks, but is not supplied with a stopper. Throughout the history of wine, decanters have played a significant role in the serving of wine. The vessels would be filled with wine from amphoras (i.e., a ceramic vase with two handles) and brought to the table where they could be more easily handled by a single servant. The Ancient Romans pioneered the use of glass as a material. After the fall of the Roman Empire, glass production was limited causing the majority of decanters to be made of bronze, silver, gold or earthenware. The Venetians reintroduced glass decanters during the Renaissance and pioneered the style of a along slender neck that opens to a wide body, increasing the exposed surface area of the wine, allowing it to react with air. In the 1730s, British glass-makers introduced the Stopper to limit exposure to the air.

 

Delft

Delft is a style of glazed earthenware; often white with blue decoration. Delft pottery, or delftware, denotes blue and white pottery made in and around Delft in the Netherlands and the tin-glazed pottery made in the Netherlands from the 16th century. Delftware in the latter sense is a type of pottery in which a white glaze is applied, usually decorated with metal oxides. Delftware includes pottery objects of all descriptions such as plates, ornaments and tiles. The earliest tin-glazed pottery in the Netherlands was made in Antwerp by Guido da Savino in 1512. The manufacture of painted pottery may have spread from the south to the northern Netherlands in the 1560s, made in Middelburg and Haarlem in the 1570s and in Amsterdam in the 1580s. Much of the finer work was produced in Delft, but simple everyday tin-glazed pottery was made in places such as Gouda, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Dordrecht.

 

Dentil

Dentil (from Latin, dens; a tooth) are a small tooth-shaped blocks or projections, a number of which are ranged in an ornamental band. In antique furniture, dentil molding is a style of molding associated with Georgian style furniture. It is often characterized by a series of little rectangles under a cornice. Dentil moldings resemble a row of teeth. 

E

Ekphrasis

Ekphrasis (from Greek, ek and phrasis, ‘out’ and ‘speak’, verb ekphrazein, to call an inanimate object by name) is the literary, graphic and often dramatic description of, or commentary on, a work of visual art. It was once used in ancient times to refer to a description of any thing, person or experience. Ekphrasis is ostensibly a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form on the basis of which it may relate more directly to the audience through the illuminations brought forth and/or highlighted. For instance, a painting may represent a sculpture and vice versa; or a poem may portray a picture, and so on. One could even go so far as to say, under proper circumstance, that any art may describe any other art, especially if a rhetorical element, stands for the sentiments and intentionality of the artist.

F

Finial

Finial is an ornament at the top of a spire or gable; usually a foliated fleur-de-lis. The finial is an architectural device, typically carved in stone and used decoratively to emphasize the apex of a gable or any of various distinctive ornaments at the top, end, or corner of a building or structure. Smaller finials can be used as decorative ornaments on the ends of curtain rods or applied to chairs or furniture. These are frequently seen on top of bedposts or clocks. Decorative finials are also often used to fasten lampshades, and as an ornamental element at the end of the handles of souvenir spoons. Architectural finials were once believed to act as a deterrent to witches on broomsticks attempting to land on one’s roofs. 

 

Foliate

Foliate is something ornamented with foliage or foils, or something having leaf-like layers or strata.

G

Gadrooning 

Gadrooning is a decorative motif consisting of convex curves in a series. In furniture and other interior accessories, the term applies to an ornamental carved band of tapered, curving and alternating concave and convex sections, usually diverging obliquely either side of a point, often with rounded ends vaguely reminiscent of flower petals. It was widely used during the Italian Renaissance.

H

Habitus

Habitus refers to a structure of the mind characterized by a set of acquired schemata, sensibilities, dispositions and taste. The particular contents of habitus are the result of the objectification of social structure at the level of individual subjectivity. Hence, the habitus is, by definition, isomorphic with the structural conditions in which it emerged. It can be defined as those aspects of culture that are anchored in the body or daily practices of individuals, groups, societies, and nations. It includes the totality of learned habits, bodily skills, styles, tastes, and other non-discursive forms of knowledge that might be said to “go without saying” for a specific group.  In this way it can be said to operate beneath the level of rational ideology.

 

Herringbone

Herringbone (from Old French, traste; beam, girder) is pattern of rows or columns of short parallel lines with all the lines in one column sloping one way and lines in adjacent columns sloping the other way. It is often used in weaving, masonry, parquetry, embroidery, or as simulated as decorative image. As a geometric tessellation (i.e., tiling), the herringbone pattern is topologically identical to the regular hexagonal tiling.

I

Imari

Imari is a style of Japanese porcelain. Imari porcelain is the European collectors name for Japanese porcelain wares made in the town of Arita, in the former Hizen Province, northwestern Kyushu, and exported from the port of Imari, Saga, specifically for the European export trade. In Japanese, these porcelains are known as Arita-yaki. The ko-Imari and Iro-Nabeshima porcelains usually have painted décor of underglaze with blue and iron red on white ground. The subject matter is of foliage and flowers. Enamel colors other than blue and red are used in the Kakiemon porcelain. The porcelain has a gritty texture on the bases, where it is not covered by glaze.

J

Jardinière

Jardinière is a French word, from the feminine form of “gardener.” Jardinière has three meanings: 1) A Jardinière can be a large stand, pot, urn or receptacle upon which, or into which, plants may be placed. Jardinière tend to be highly decorative. They are often used as a garden accent element, for large plants, and raised culinary and herb gardens. 2) A Jardinière is also a culinary term, meaning a dish that is cooked or served with a mixture of spring vegetables, such as peas, carrots and green beans. 3) Jardinière, in French, is the name for the golden round beetle, the European mold cricket and other species of beetles attacking plants in kitchen gardens.

 

O-S

Ogee

Ogee is a molding that (in section) has the shape of an S, with the convex part above and the concave part below, or is consisting of two arcs that curve in opposite senses, so that the ends are parallel. The ogee curve is an analogue of a cyma curve, the difference being that a cyma has a horizontal rather than vertical end’s. An alternative name for ogee is cyma reversa. The term has uses in architecture, antiques, mathematics, and fluid mechanics, as well as clock design and plastic surgery.

 

Ogival

Ogival or ogive (Latin, obviata; the feminine perfect passive participle of obviare; to resist) is the roundly tapered end of a two-dimensional or three-dimensional object. One of the defining characteristics of Gothic architecture is the ogival arch. In Gothic architecture, ogives are the intersecting transverse ribs of arches that establish the surface of a Gothic vault.

 

Ormolu

Ormolu (from Latin, molere; to grind, mill) is brass that looks like gold; used to decorate furniture.  It is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-karat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze. The mercury is driven off in a kiln. The French refer to this technique as bronze doré, in English gilt bronze. The manufacture of true ormolu employed a process known as mercury-gilding or fire-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object. Due to exposure to the harmful mercury fumes, most gilders did not survive beyond 40 years of age. No true ormolu was produced in France after around 1830 because legislation had outlawed the use of mercury. Electroplating is the most common modern technique. Ormolu techniques are essentially the same as those used on silver, to produce silver-gilt (also known as vermeil). A later substitute of a mixture of metals resembling ormolu was developed in France and called pomponne, though, confusingly, the mix of copper and zinc, sometimes with an addition of tin, is technically a type of brass. From the 19th century the term has been popularized to refer to gilt metal or imitation gold. Gilt-bronze is found from antiquity onwards across Eurasia, but especially in Chinese art, where it was always more common than silver-gilt, the opposite of Europe.

 

Oviform

Oviform refers to something that is rounded like an egg, having a form or figure of an egg or egg-shaped (e.g., being ovoid, oval elliptical or elliptic).

P

Paterae

Often used by the Greeks and Romans, a paterae is a broad and shallow dish used for drinking, primarily in a ritual context such as a libation or sacrifices.  

 

Posset

A posset (also spelled poshote, poshotte) is a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced. It was popular from medieval times to the 19th century. The word is mainly used now for a related dessert similar to syllabub. To make the drink, milk was heated to a boil, then mixed with wine or ale, which curdled it, the mixture was also usually spiced. It was considered a specific remedy for some minor illnesses, (e.g., a common cold), even today people drink hot milk to help aid sleep. In 16th-century and later sources, possets are generally made from lemon, or other citrus, juice; cream and sugar. Eggs are often added, as well. "Posset sets" for mixing and serving possets were popular gifts, and valuable ones (often made of silver) were heirlooms. Such sets contained a posset "pot," or "bowl," or "cup" to serve it in, a container for mixing it in, and usually various containers for the ingredients, as well as spoons. The posset set that the Spanish ambassador gave Queen Mary I of England and King Philip II of Spain when they became betrothed in 1554 is believed to have been made by Benvenuto Cellini, it is of crystal, gold, precious gems, and enamel. It is on display at Hatfield House in England and consists of a large stemmed, covered bowl, two open stemmed vessels, a covered container, three spoons, and two forks.

R

Roundel

Roundel (Old French, rondel; diminutive of rond; circle, round) is a curved from, often a semicircular panel, window or recess. The term is commonly used to refer to a type of national insignia used on military aircraft, generally circular in shape and usually comprising concentric rings of different colours. Roundel also refers to a round piece of armor plate that protects the armpit, paintings created in a round format, and in a form of verse in English language poetry.

 

Rosette

Rosette (from Latin, rosa) is an ornament or decorative pattern resembling a rose. Rosettes are often made of material gathered or pleated so as to resemble a rose and worn as a badge of office, as evidence of having won a decoration (as a medal of honor), or as trimming. A rosette is also a disk of foliage or a floral design usually in relief used as a decorative motif. A rosette can also refer to the structure or color marking on an animal, suggestive of a rosette (e.g., the groups of spots on a leopard). As well as a cluster of leaves in crowded circles or spirals arising basally from a crown (e.g., as in the dandelion) or typically from an axis with greatly shortened internodes (e.g., as in many tropical palms). Lastly a rosette can refer to a food decoration or garnish in the shape of a rose, as in icing rosettes. 

S

Saltglaze

Pottery referred to as salt glazed or salted is created by adding common salt, sodium chloride, into the chamber of a hot kiln. Sodium oxide acts as a flux and reacts with the silica and clay in the clay body. A typical salt glaze piece has a glassine finish, usually with a glossy and slightly orange-peel texture, enhancing the natural colour of the body beneath it.

T

Trellis

Trellis (from Latin, trichila) is an architectural structure, usually made from interwoven pieces of wood, bamboo or metal that is often made to support climbing plants. A trellis can also refer to a structure, usually made from interwoven wood pieces, attached to the roof or exterior walls of a house. Can also refer to an arrangement that forms or gives the effect of a lattice. 

Q

Quatrefoil

Etymologically, quatrefoil means “four leaves,” and applies to general four-lobed shapes in various contexts. The quatrefoil enjoyed its peak popularity during the Gothic Revival and Renaissance, but can still be seen on countless churches and cathedrals today. It is most commonly found as tracery, mainly in Gothic architecture, where a quatrefoil can often be seen at the top of a Gothic arch, sometimes with stained glass on the interior.

 

 

 

 

V-z

Value

Value (from Latin, valuta; past participle of Latin, valere; to be of worth) is a numerical quantity measured or assigned or computed. Value is the fair return or equivalent in goods, services, currency or money for something exchanged. To value something is to also estimate the monetary worth of something, say an antique or artwork, and or to rate or scale its value based upon its usefulness, importance or general worth. Value can also refer to a numerical quantity that is assigned or is determined by calculation or measurement, the relative duration of a musical note, relative lightness of darkness of a colour, or the relation of one part in a picture to another with respect to lightness and darkness. In ethics, value is a property of objects, physical or material as well as abstract (i.e., actions or behaviors), representing their degree of importance, (i.e., a system of values). Within the context of law, and in particular relation to contracts, value is a concept related to consideration. At common law, certain transferable obligations were only enforceable if the transferee had acquired them for value. In semiotics, the value of a sign depends on its position and relationship within the system of signification and upon the particular codes being used. In mathematics value commonly refers to the output of a function. In computer science, a value is an interpretation of a sequence of bits according to some data type. It is possible for the same sequence of bits to have different values, depending on the type used to interpret its meaning (e.g., the value could be an integer or floating point value or string). 

W

Wedgwood

Wedgwood is a general term used to describe the company, Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, a British pottery firm founded in 1759. Josiah Wedgwood (July 12 1730-January 3, 1795) was an English potter, credited with the industrialization of the manufacture of pottery. A prominent abolitionist, Wedgwood is remembered for his anti-slavery medallion which read: “Am I Not A Man And A Brother?” Wedgwood was the grandfather of Charles Darwin and Emma Darwin. 

 

Thomas Wheildon

Born September 1719 in Penkull, Stoke-on-Trent – died March 1795. Thomas Whieldon was one of the most respected and well-known English potters of his time. By 1740, he was the master of pottery at Fenton Low. His talent and renown sucess picked up gradually and by 1748 he was known to have only taken in nineteen employees, one of whom was Josiah Spode.

 

Woolsack

Woolsack is typically a sack containing or intended for wool. It also refers to the official seat of the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords.