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David Blayney Brown

[Fr. aquarelle ; Ger. aquarellfarbe ; It. acquerello ; Sp. acuarela ]

Pigment dissolved in water and bound by a colloid agent so that it adheres to the working surface when applied with the brush. The same name is used for a work of art in that medium. Watercolour may be transparent or opaque and is usually applied to paper, but sometimes also to such materials as silk or vellum. The term arises because, in varying degrees, water is always used in the largest proportion and, in the purest application of the medium, twice—both to mix pigments and to dilute the colours. This article concentrates on the use of watercolour predominantly in Europe and the United Kingdom; for further discussion see Indian subcontinent, §V, 4(ix) and Islamic art, §I, 8 .

The colloid matter is usually combined with the pigment, which may be made up in dry cakes or moist in tubes. More rarely, it is dissolved in water, and the brush is dipped in the solution before taking up the colour. Varieties of gum are the most common colloids, the usual being ...


With the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768, British oil painters obtained recognition as professionals; to protect their status, they tried to maintain a division between the high art of oil painting and mere tinted drawing or watercolour, the province of drawing-masters and topographers. Watercolours were inevitably ‘skied’ in the Academy exhibitions, and it was thus natural that watercolour painters should eventually seek to improve their standing by forming their own professional association. During the 18th century in Britain, a number of informal groupings of artists had arisen, such as the York Virtuosi, a prominent member of which was Francis Place, or the Society of St Peter Martyr, centered on the Oxfordshire patron and painter Oldfield Bowles (1739–1810), which linked cultivated amateur artists with like-minded professionals. A later example was the United Patna and Gaya Society in India, otherwise known as the Behar School of Athens, which was founded in ...


Shirley Millidge

Distinguishing mark incorporated into paper and visible only through transmitted light. Watermarks may include names, symbols, initials, seals, and dates. They are used as a mill or papermaker’s trademark, with a given mill using several different watermarks to distinguish papers of differing qualities. Before c. 1790 they were usually referred to as ‘papermarks’.

A watermark appears as a pale pattern in the sheet when a piece of paper is held up to the light or placed over a lightbox. In handmade paper the watermark is produced during the manufacture of the sheet by the screen and by the vatman’s handling of the mould (see Paper, §I). The design is made of wire and set into the screen in the mould on which the sheet of paper is to be formed. The vatman dips the mould into the prepared paper pulp and then lifts it out horizontally. The screen retains the fibred pulp while allowing the water to drain away. The vatman then shakes the mould in two directions, from left to right and then from back to front, matting the fibres together. The wet pulp settles out more thinly over the wires that form the watermark design than it does over the rest of the screen, so the mark is more translucent than the sheet around it. The mould is then passed to a second workman, who turns it over and quickly releases the paper on to a piece of felt....




Didier Besnainou, Robert Wenley, Hilton Brown and Cate Harley

Substance composed of varying proportions of esters, acids, alcohols and hydrocarbons and similar in composition to fats. Waxes are relatively stable compounds and have a low toxicity and mild odour. Most natural waxes are solid at room temperature but soften or liquefy at higher temperatures. They are insoluble but emulsify easily in water and are soluble in some organic solvents (e.g. turpentine). Waxes range in colour from white through yellow to brown and black, although they can discolour when exposed to natural light or due to the action of additives or solvents.

Didier Besnainou

Natural waxes are obtained from animal, vegetable and mineral sources. Beeswax is the most common of natural waxes. It is a secretion of the glands on the abdomen of the ‘worker’ bee, primarily of the domestic species (Apis mellifica), and is made ductile through chewing and impregnation of saliva by the insect. The colour of beeswax can vary, depending on the original source of the pollen. Heather, which has white pollen, produces a wax that has little colour, but sainfoin pollen, being yellow, produces an ochre-yellow wax. ...


Charles J. Semowich


Item for indicating wind direction, usually made by blacksmiths of wrought iron or copper and placed on public buildings, churches and private dwellings. The weathervane was invented by the Greeks, and in 48 bc a vane, in the form of ‘Triton’, was installed on the Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhos (the so-called Tower of Winds), a weather observatory in Athens. The Romans created weathervanes because of their belief that wind direction could foretell the future. Marcus Terentius Varro described a weathervane located on his villa in which the wind direction was indicated on the inside by a shaft through the ceiling, which was connected to the vane. The Vikings had quadrant-shaped weathervanes, which influenced the design of weathervanes until the 10th century. An early Viking example is in the Statens Historiska Museum, Stockholm. During the medieval period a papal decree stated that a rooster (often in the form of a weathervane) should be placed on each church in order to serve as a reminder of the betrayal of Jesus. Early recorded weathervanes illustrated in medieval art include those in the manuscript of the poet ...



Sara Jane Pearman

[mourner ; Fr. pleurant]

Figure, most often sculptured, associated with a tomb or burial-place; more specifically a group of tomb figures popular in the late 14th century and early 15th. The use of mourning figures on the sides of tomb-chests or cenotaphs seems to have started in the court circles of France during the 13th century. The tomb of Philippe Dagobert (d c. 1235; Saint-Denis Abbey), for example, has a series of simple niches containing robed clerics in relief. Although each figure shows a slightly different gesture, they are all frontally posed. Early weepers might represent angels, clerics, or the family of the deceased, and they were often garbed in clerical or liturgical robes. Throughout the 13th century and most of the 14th this appears to have been the most popular type of mourner figure, with examples throughout Europe, such as the tomb of Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster (d 1296; London, Westminster Abbey; ...


W. C. Foxley

Genre of art inspired by the land and the peoples of the American West, particularly in the period during and shortly after white settlement of the area. It was practised first by explorer-artists and later by permanent settlers of the area. Incorporating the media of painting, drawing and sculpture, such art records the dramatic topography west of the Mississippi River extending to the Pacific Ocean and often deals with the frequently violent events that helped to shape its settlement. The first major depictions of the area occurred in the years prior to the American Civil War (1861–5), but the heyday of Wild West and frontier art was between 1880 and 1910, when such artists as Charles M(arion) Russell and Frederic Remington lived and worked there, depicting the cowboys and American Indians of the region ( see fig. ). It was this type of art that gave rise to the romantic notion of the West as an area of danger, excitement, and dramatic confrontation, stirring the imagination of many easterners. Aspects of the life and culture of the West continued to be treated into the first half of the 20th century. However, by this time both white settlers and their culture had long been dominant, and consequently the fascination that the region had formerly exercised over white artists dwindled....


Susan Roaf

[Arab. bādahanj, malqaf; Pers. bādgīr]

Traditional form of natural ventilation and air-conditioning built on houses throughout the Middle East from North Africa to Pakistan. Constructed at least since the 2nd millennium bc in Egypt, wind catchers have also been used to cool caravanserais, water cisterns and mosques. Consisting of an open vent built on the roof facing into or away from the prevailing wind, wind catchers have shafts carrying the air down through the roof into the living area below, thereby ventilating and cooling the spaces. Wind catchers are generally placed above the summer rooms of courtyard houses. On the Iranian plateau, where the finest wind catchers are built, the vents are in the tops of brick towers which capture the faster airstreams above the general roof level. When there is little air movement, as on summer afternoons, the wind catcher acts as a chimney, drawing warm air up the shaft and through the living areas from the courtyard. In coastal settlements, towers generally face onshore winds. Most inland towers also face prevailing winds but in some desert settlements in the Yazd region of central Iran, where the prevailing wind is hot and dusty, vents similarly face away from the wind, and the preferred air from the courtyard is drawn through the summer rooms. In Iraq and central Iran, wind catchers are important in moderating the climate of the deep basements used as summer living rooms. In the Gulf and in Sind (the lower Indus region) wind catchers serve ground- and first-floor summer rooms....



Walter Smith

Opening in a wall to admit light and air, mostly covered with glass, but also with paper or wood. The term derives from the Old Norse word vindauge, meaning ‘eye of the wind’. Historically, windows have taken on numerous diverse forms and functions. In cases where defensive considerations were paramount, windows were small, inconspicuous and confined to the upper levels of buildings (e.g. Catal Hüyük, Turkey, c. 6000 bc; Himeji Castle, Japan, ad 1568–1600). To reduce light and heat, stone buildings in ancient Egypt often had no windows on the outside walls at all; instead, narrow slits were carved into the ceiling (e.g. Temple of Hathor, Dendara, begun 80 bc). The function of a window can be almost completely aesthetic or symbolic, as when serving as a frame for the presentation of royalty to an audience. One example was the Egyptian ‘window of appearance’, which first appeared in the Amarna period (e.g. ...


Peter Klein, N. D. Umney, Michael Sándor von Podmaniczky, Christopher Claxton Stevens, Dick Onians and Joseph J. Godla

Material derived from the trunks, boughs and other hard parts of trees and shrubs and serving a wide range of artistic purposes. It has been used as a raw material for millennia, first to construct houses and make tools and weapons, and later to build temples, palaces and boats and to carve sculptures and furniture. As an organic raw material, wood is subject to destruction by fire, insects, fungi and bacteria, and even by light and water: thus the preservation and study of the relatively few wooden artefacts that have survived from early civilizations are of crucial importance.

Wood represents the secondary permanent tissue of ligneous plants (trees and shrubs) that consist of trunks, branches and roots. It is produced from a formative layer known as cambium ( see fig. ), which is between the bark and the wood. As it constantly increases in girth, cambium sheds wood cells (xylem; 1b) inwardly and bark cells (phloem; 1c) outwardly. In this process the growth of bark is much less than the growth of wood. In older trees bark represents 10–15% of the whole and wood 85–90%. On the cross-section of a trunk with bark the following can be seen, varying according to the type of wood: the bark composed of a combination of inner bark (bast) and outer bark (1d); the wood part with sapwood (1e) and heartwood (1f), the annual or growth rings (1g) and various complexes of cell and tissue; and the central pith (1h). As wood ages, it is separated into sapwood and heartwood by processes aimed at producing a heart or core. The sapwood that lies on the outside as the living part of the trunk serves to conduct water and to hold nutrients. The heartwood—the inner core of the wood—is formed when the living cells die off; this process begins sooner or later in different species, but generally between the 20th and 40th year of a tree’s life. In Europe the species of trees are divided according to the way in which the heartwood is formed. Trees that invariably form coloured heartwood are known as heartwood trees; examples include ...



Term used in the 19th century for a planographic print taken from a plate made of zinc, a technique first described in his 1801 patent application by J(ohann) N(epomuk) F(ranz) Alois Senefelder ; zinc was common in commercial usage by c. 1840. Such prints were more often subsumed under the generic name lithograph. ...