[It.: ‘ground floor room/hall’]
Garden hall or room situated on the ground floor of a palace or mansion, beneath the principal room of the corps de logis, serving as a connecting link between the vestibule and the garden. It is a creation of the German Baroque, influenced mainly by Italian forms and dependent on features of garden design common since antiquity (e.g. grottoes, nymphs and theatres). German precursors of the sala terrena can be found in the Grottenhof (1581–6) of the Munich Residenz (see Munich §IV 2.) or in Hellbrunn, Schloss (1612–19). Under the influence of Italian and Genoese palace architecture, spatial compositions that gave on to the open air were developed in an attempt to overcome the small-scale variety and plethora of interior decoration hitherto prevalent.
The Würzburg Residenz (begun 1720; see Würzburg, §2) incorporates the classic type of sala terrena. Following Balthasar Neumann’s design, it consists of an elongated oval, ringed with columns, in a sequence of rooms at the heart of the palace. In its solemn and cool atmosphere, evoked by the deliberate darkening of the colours of the marble columns and the ceiling fresco by ...
Janis Callen Bell
Term of modern origin deriving from tenebroso (It. and Sp.: ‘dark’), used to describe a style of 17th-century painting characterized by much dark shadow and few light areas. The concept developed from the study of Chiaroscuro, in which Renaissance writers, paraphrasing optical texts, distinguished shadow (ombra) from total darkness (tenebra). Thus Ghiberti: ‘Tenebra is a total absence of light; it is not possible to see in the tenebre as it is in shadow’, and Leonardo da Vinci: ‘Shadow is a diminution of light; tenebre is the absence of light’. ‘Tenebroso’ was used pejoratively from the 17th century until the end of the 19th to criticize the unnatural chiaroscuro of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and their imitators. Zaccolini, writing c. 1622, stated: ‘Without the tempering of reflected light, the shadowy space will not seem to be a shadow but will appear to be total darkness, as in night time. This is not a good imitation of nature, but rather makes a crude, cutting manner.’ Lanzi, looking back on the 17th century in ...
Decorative carved architectural feature, also used on Baroque and Rococo furniture, consisting of a bust- or half-length human, mythological figure or animal that appears to spring from the top of a pillar, pilaster, pedestal, bracket etc. The name derives from Terminus, the Roman god of boundaries (see also Herm...