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Canvas  

Jonathan Stephenson

Type of strong, substantial cloth originally made of hemp (Cannabis sativa, from which it takes its name) but more likely to be of a coarse flax or tightly woven linen; similar textiles of cotton or jute are also called canvas. A cloth type rather than a specific cloth, with varied practical applications, canvas is important as a material used for making ...

Article

Cotton  

Natalie Rothstein

Fibre made from the long, soft hairs (lint) surrounding the seeds of the cotton plant (Gossypium). In the right climate (temperate to hot), cotton is easy to grow; it is also cheap to harvest and easily packed into compact bales for transport and export. Indigenous to ...

Article

Festoon  

Carved, moulded or painted ornament representing a chain or loop of fruit, flowers or leaves, suspended at both ends and often represented as bound with ribbons. It is sometimes distinguished from a swag, which may be defined as a piece of cloth or drapery hung in the same shape and also widely used as a decorative device in architecture and decoration. The device originated in Classical antiquity, when festoons of real fruit were hung between the skulls of slaughtered sacrificial animals and the sacrificial instruments. Later the festoon was applied as carved decoration to temple friezes and became part of the repertory of motifs used in secular architecture. The device has been widely applied in revivals of the classical style in architecture, interior decoration and, particularly from the 17th century, as an ornament on furniture, carpets, pottery and plate. Its forms are always slightly altered according to the prevailing taste and range from rich and elaborate clustered festoons of the Baroque period to the light and flowing festoons of the Neo-classical. In the Renaissance the festoon became one of the chief decorative motifs; instead of animal skulls or bucrania, ribbons, rosettes, masks and figures were incorporated into the design. The festoon was also popular during the Neo-classical period and was a frequent decorative feature of interiors by ...

Article

D. M. Mitchell

Self-patterned, fine white linen that has been used in western Europe since the 15th century for tablecloths, napkins and handtowels. Initially, these figured linens were described in various ways, but in England by the mid-16th century they were classed, notably in probate inventories, as either ‘diaper’ or ‘damask’. This classification was descriptive rather than technical, ‘diaper’ and ‘damask’ being differentiated solely on the complexity of the pattern: small repeat patterns, often of a geometrical form, were described as ‘diaper’ and figurative patterns with longer repeats as ‘damasks’....

Article

Sandra Sider

Abbreviation for ‘optical art’, referring to painting, prints, sculpture, and textiles exploiting the optical effects of visual perception. The term entered American art vocabulary in 1964, referring especially to two-dimensional structures with strong psychophysiological effects. The reasons for these effects had been explained in three 19th-century treatises: Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s ...

Article

Type of delicate embroidery done on a net surface.

Article

Scroll  

Amy McNair, Jane Casey Singer, Jyotindra Jain and Claire Illouz

Roll of cloth or paper with written text and/or decoration. This article discusses the scroll in Asia; for Western scrolls, see Roll. The scroll format developed independently in several regions of Asia. Its advantages over other pictorial formats, such as screens and murals, are portability, durability and ease of storage. Scrolls were first made in ...

Article

Support  

Jonathan Stephenson

Surface object or substance that carries a two-dimensional work of art, in particular a painting, drawing or print. Thus, in the case of a painting on canvas, the cloth and the frame over which it is stretched are together considered the support.

To be technically correct, a support should be carefully differentiated from its ...