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Atlantid  

G. Lloyd-Morgan

Male figure (sometimes known as telamon, and equivalent to the female caryatid) used architecturally since the Classical period to replace a column, and for decorative effect in metalwork and furniture since the 16th century. It is usually represented standing with its hands behind its bowed head, as if supporting a heavy weight on its shoulders, and is probably modelled on the mythical Atlas, who was said to hold up the sky. Unlike caryatids, surviving examples from the Greco-Roman world are scarce. The earliest and most famous, in the huge temple of Zeus Olympios at Akragas (begun c. 480 bc), are 7.65 m high and composed of 12 or 13 courses of stone. Several have been reconstructed on site from excavated fragments. Evidence from coins suggests that atlantids adorned other temples and sacred buildings. They are found in Roman secular architecture from the 1st century bc, for example at Pompeii in the ...

Article

Coffering  

Margaret Lyttleton and Quentin Hughes

Type of panelling on a ceiling, in which beams are interspersed with crossbeams; the spaces created between them are called the coffers.

Margaret Lyttleton

In ancient Greek architecture flat ceilings were usually made with long beams of stone or wood interspersed with short crossbeams; the coffers between carried elaborate decorations, such as the rosettes found in the east cella of the Erechtheion at Athens (421–405 bc) and the lotus flowers of the peristyle of the Thymele at Epidauros (4th century bc). Greek coffers were often surrounded by an astragal, as at the Erechtheion. Sometimes coffers were decorated with paint, as in the Propylaia on the Acropolis at Athens (437–432 bc), where the decoration was particularly admired by Pausanias (Guide to Greece).

The coffers of the ceilings of ancient buildings do not often survive, since the roofs themselves do not survive. There are, however, remains of the sunken coffers in the dome of the ...

Article

Conservation of stucco and plasterwork  

Karen Dundas

In the English language, the terms “plasterwork” and “stucco” are used virtually interchangeably to describe everything from plain render on walls or ceilings, to elaborate modeled or cast panels, cornices, and ornamental enrichment supported by armatures. Raw materials and methods of construction have varied enormously over time and region; but ultimately all plasterwork has as its basis either lime or gypsum. The illusory and imitative nature of elaborate plasterwork belies the complexity of the medium, which forms a network of interrelationships with concealed structural materials including timber, stone, and metal. Conservation treatment may be required where decay, inherent weakness failure, and/or mechanical damage threaten the survival of original material. Generally, the aims of treatment are minimal intervention and maximum preservation to retain authenticity; however, reinstatement of aesthetic integrity is often desirable. This article provides a selective overview of this complex subject, touching upon condition assessment, analysis methods, and preventative conservation measures, whilst focusing more specifically on consolidant behavior and remedial treatment of plasterwork....

Article

Fillet  

Narrow, flat, raised moulding used to give emphasis in architecture. The term is employed, for example, for the ridges (stria) between the flutes of an Ionic column, for the ribbon-like ornament between the echinus and necking of a column and for the uppermost step of a cornice. In the decorative arts fillets are used to hide the edges of wallpaper or hangings. In leatherwork (especially bookbindig), the term denotes a wheel tool used to impress a straight line or the straight line made by the tool. (...

Article

Finial  

In architecture, the crowning ornament on the point of a spire or pinnacle. In the decorative arts, in which it commonly takes the form of an acorn or un, finials are used on canopies, on the ends of open seats in a church and on the covers of tableware in silver or pottery....

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Trevor Proudfoot

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Trevor Proudfoot and Fiona Allardyce

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Japanning  

Oscar P. Fitzgerald

Technique for imitating Asian Lacquer. Once Dutch and Portuguese traders imported lacquer ware from the Far East after 1700, Europeans became fascinated by this technique. Originating in ancient China, it spread to Japan where it is still practiced in the 21st century. The process involved the application of up to a hundred coats of lacquer produced from the sap of the Rhus vernicifera tree, native to China, Malaya, and Japan. Despite attempts to discover the secret, Europeans could not duplicate the process. Since the sap quickly congeals it did not travel well and was toxic like poison ivy.

In 1688 A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing by John Stalker and George Parker explained how to imitate the process by applying shellac dissolved in alcohol over a gessoed surface (see Stalker and Parker). Black was the most common color but red, white, blue, green, yellow, olive brown, and imitation tortoise shell (black streaked with vermillion) were also known. After designs were drawn on the surface, a mixture of red clay or sawdust, whiting, and gum arabic was daubed into the outlines and the raised images were sculpted with engraving tools and then colored with metal dust. A variation called ...

Article

Leather  

Bathsheba Abse

The preserved hide of animals. It can be divided into two main categories: hides, which are taken from the skins of large animals such as horses and buffaloes; and skins, which are taken from small animals such as pigs, goats, sheep, reptiles, and birds. Both hides and skins are composed of three layers: the top layer, or epidermis, which has fur or hair growing out of it; the middle layer, or corium; and the bottom layer of fat or flesh (adipose tissue). The top and bottom layers are destroyed before the tanning process, and only the corium is used to make leather. The surface of the corium is marked by a grain, formed by the holes of the hair follicles, from which the origin of the leather can be determined.

Leather is strong yet flexible, and it can be treated to be as firm as board or as soft as woven cloth. Its fibrous structure enables it to be molded and set, and it will also take many forms of decoration. It is used for clothing and footwear, armor, harness and saddlery, bookbinding, upholstery, and various decorative and utilitarian items....

Article

Lunette  

[Fr.: ‘little moon’]

In architecture a semicircular space on a wall or ceiling, framed by an arch or vault; in manuscript paining a similarly shaped, framed space often containing figural imagery or text. In cabinet-making the term is used more loosely to denote a fan-shaped decoration. Carved, painted or inlaid lunettes often appear on 18th-century furniture....

Article

Malachite  

Gordon Campbell

Copper-green stone. In ceramics, the term denotes a glaze used to create pottery with the copper-green colour of malachite. Powdered malachite was long used in wall painting, but is only rarely used in easel painting. Deposits of malachite were discovered in Siberia in 1635, and thereafter malachite vessels were produced in the Kremlin workshops. Objects made of malachite were fashionable in the first half of the 19th century, reaching their technical height from 1830 to 1840 with ten columns (h. 9 m) for St Isaac's Cathedral in St Petersburg (in situ), but also being used for table-tops and other decorative items such as urns (e.g. the massive malachite urn presented to George IV by the Tsar; Windsor Castle, Royal Col.). Later in the century Carl Fabergé used malachite for small objects.

N. Guseva and others: ‘Diplomatic Gifts from Tsar Nicholas I of Russia to the Duke of Wellington’, ...

Article

Mascaron  

Decorative grotesque mask, in architecture usually over a door or fountain and in furniture on gilt-bronze mounts (see also Grotesque). The espagnolette is a type of mascaron.

C. D’Onofrio: ‘Fountains of Rome’, F.M.R. Magazine, 81 (Aug 1996), pp. 50–66 G. Manganelli: ‘The Many Faces of Water’, F.M.R. Magazine...

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Morocco  

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Objects of vertu  

Gordon Campbell

[objets de vertu]

Decorative work in a fine material (e.g. glass, porcelain, semi-precious stones, silver or gold) that is attractive because of its antiquity, beauty and quality of workmanship. ‘Vertu’ (It. virtù) refers to a taste for curios or other works of art. The traditional form objets de vertu combines French and English spellings; as the Italian sense of ...

Article

Plinth  

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Shagreen  

Gordon Campbell

Term that denotes two distinct types of skin used in the decorative arts. It can refer to a type of untanned leather (often dyed green) with a rough granular surface, prepared from the skin of the horse or ass; the indented surface is created by trampling seeds into the skin and then shaking them out when dried. Alternatively, the term can refer to the skin of sharks and rays, which is covered with close-set calcified papillae, forming a hard rough surface. Shagreen has been used since the 17th century for bookbinding, watch cases, and coverings for small boxes; in France, where shagreen has been used for upholstery, it is known as galuchat (dogfish skin).

M. Willemsen: Shagreen in Western Europe: Its Use and Manufacture in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Apollo, 145 (Jan 1997), pp. 126–33 W. Moonan: When Surface Was Substance, Art and Auction, 27/1 (Sept 2004), pp. 126–33...

Article

Spalliera  

Ellen Callmann

[from It. spalla: ‘shoulder’, backrest of a piece of furniture]

Term applied to Tuscan 15th- and early 16th-century painted wall panels. Originally the term denoted panels that were set into the wall panelling at head or shoulder height above the backrest of a piece of furniture. It was later extended to include panel paintings set into the wall and was an integral part of the wainscoting. With few exceptions, spalliere are characterized by their size and shape—larger than cassone panels and proportionally higher, but still two to three times as long as high. A good example is the panel known as the Adimari Wedding (630×1800 mm; Florence, Accad.), now attributed to Scheggia and possibly dating from the 1450s. These pictures were installed above a piece of furniture, such as one or more cassoni, a bed or a lettuccio (a high-backed bench with a chest below the seat that doubled as a narrow bed). Schiaparelli (1908) distinguished between ...

Article

Stucco and plasterwork  

Massoud Azarnoush, Geoffrey Beard, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom, David M. Jones, Monique Maillard, Trevor Proudfoot, Anna Maria Quagliotti, M. Rautmann, Elizabeth Ann Schneider, and Ye. V. Zeymal’

General terms for a decorative art that, at its simplest, is a render of mortar designed to decorate a smooth wall or ceiling and, in its more sophisticated form, is a combination of high-relief, sculptural, and surface decoration. The words stucco and plaster are used virtually interchangeably and, most flexibly, can be applied to mixtures of mud or clay (see §III, 8 below); more precisely, however, stucco usually means a hard, slow-setting substance based on lime as opposed to quick-setting plaster based on gypsum. The following survey discusses the technical aspects of stucco and plasterwork and their conservation and gives an overview of their history and uses.

See also Conservation of stucco and plasterwork.

Stucco is a soft, plastic material comprising mortar and various additives. In Italy, the word is a general term for a soft material that can be shaped and used for repairs or for covering architectural surfaces; elsewhere, it refers mainly to finished modeled, drawn, or cast decorative plasterwork. Because it is pliable while it cures and hardens, stucco requires some kind of support or reinforcement, which may simply be the wall itself or an ...