Acanthus A Mediterranean plant, Acanthus spinosus, with fleshy, scalloped leaves. From antiquity, it was widely used for carved ornament, such as decorative mouldings, and Corinthian and Composite capitals. In the 18th century, it was a popular motif for furniture and metalwork.
Aluminium A I ightweight, si lvery-wh ite metal extracted from bauxite, used by furniture designers after World World 11, and favoured for its mal leabi I ity and rust-resistance.
Amaranth A South American tropical hardwood used for veneering since the 18th century. lt is purple in colour when first cut, and ages to a rich, dark brown. lt is also known as purpleheart and palisander.
Amboyna A decorative hardwood, varying in colour from light reddish-brown to orange, with a mottled figure and tightly curled grain. lt was often used for veneering in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
amphora - a tall ancient Greek or Roman jar with two handles and a narrow neck
Anthemion With origins in ancient Greece and Rome, this is a fan-like decorative motif resembling the honeysuckle leaf and flower. lt was used as a repeated motif for banding on Neoclassical friezes and cornices towards the end of the 18th century.
Appliqué is ornamental needlework in which pieces of fabric in different shapes and patterns are sewn or stuck onto a larger piece to form a picture or pattern.
Apron The frieze rail of a table, the base of the framework of a piece of case furniture, or a shaped, sometimes carved, piece of wood beneath the seat rail of a chair. lt is also known as a skirt.
apse - a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome, also known as an exedra. An exedra includes a seat
Arabesque Styl ized fol iage arranged in a swirling, interlaced pattern and combining flowers and tendrils with spirals and zigzags. lt originated in the Middle East and was popular in Europe until the early 17th century.
Armoire A French term for a storage cupboard for clothing and household linen. lt usually has two large doors and interior shelving.
Astragal A moulding, that is semicircular in cross-section, often used as glazing bars for bookcases.
Aubusson tapestry Tapestries made in Aubusson in France, which was granted the title of royal manufactory in 1665. They were generally less expensive than tapestries produced at the Gobelins factory in Paris.
Bail handle First used from about 1690, this is a loop-shaped handle suspended from two knobs, sometimes mounted on a backplate.
Bakelite A revolutionary synthetic plastic i nvented by L. H. Baekeland in 1909. This robust, non-flammable and attractive plastic became popular in the 1920s and 1930s and is associated with Art Deco.
Ball foot A round, turned foot used on oak and walnut case furniture and chairs during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
Baluster A short post or pillar, such as a table leg, or one in a series supporting a rail and forming a balustrade. Usually bulbous in shape, the form was inspired by Classical vases and has been used since the Renaissance.
Banding A decorative strip of veneer in a contrasting wood. Generally used round the edge of drawer fronts, table tops, and panels. With crossbanding, the contrasting wood runs at right angles to the main veneer. In feather, or herringbone banding, two narrow strips of contrasting veneer run diagonally in opposite directions, thus forming a chevron pattern.
batt - a piece of felted material used for lining or insulating items such as quilts and sleeping bags.
Beading A decorative Neoclassical border, often used on case furniture, which has applied or embossed beads of the same size used in a single row, or alternating with elongated beads, in which case it is known as bead and reel.
Beech A pale timber with a fine, straight grain, native to Britain and Europe. lt is easy to carve and was popular in France in the 18th century, often carved and gilded, and in Britain during the Regency period, when it was sometimes painted to resemble more expensive woods.
Bellflower See Husk motif. Bentwood A technique perfected by Michael Thonet in Austria in the mid 19th century for producing bentwood furniture. lt involves bending solid or laminated wood over steam to make curved sections for table and chair frames.
bergère - an enclosed upholstered French armchair (fauteuil) with an upholstered back and armrests on upholstered frames
Bergere A French term for an informal, deep-seated chair of generous proportions. lt usually has a caned or upholstered back and sides and a squab cushion.
Birch A northern European wood with a golden colour, sometimes with a hint of red. lt was used in its solid form for chairs and other small pieces in Russia and Scandinavia from the late 18th century onwards.
Bird's-eye maple An attractive wood from northern Europe and North America, which has a characteristic light-brown figuring of tiny rings that resemble a bird's eyes. lt was very popular as a veneer in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Blackamoor A life-sized carved figure of a black slave in brightly coloured clothes. Originating in Venice, blackamoors were used as pedestal supports for torcheres and similar pieces from the 18th century.
Boiserie A French term for wood panel I i ng elaborately carved with foliage, then painted and gilded. lt was fashionable in the wealthy residences of France in the 17th and early 18th centuries, and was often complemented with furniture of a matching design.
Bolection A moulding, usually with an S-shaped cross-section, used to cover the joint between two elements whose surfaces are not level and often found as a framework around panels.
Bombe A French term used to describe a ehest with swelling, convex sides. The term is usually applied to case furniture, such as commodes. The style was popular during the Regence period in early 18th-century France.
Bonheur-du-jour A French term for a small, delicate lady's writing desk that has a flat writing surface with tiered drawers and compartments. at the back. lt was first seen in the mid 18th century.
Boule marquetry – a type of marquetry perfected by André Charles Boulle using brass and tortoise shell. The materials are sandwiched before cutting and the corresponding pieces are used in two complementary designs. Those two designs are named premiere partie for the design with brass on a ground of tortoise shell and contra partie, for tortoise shell on a ground of brass.
Boulle marquetry A technique named after Andre-Charles Boulle, which involves the elaborate inlay of brass into tortoiseshell or ebony and vice versa. The process was applied to high-quality furniture - usually made in matching pairs - from the late 17th century onwards.
boulle - a type of marquetry of patterned inlays of brass and tortoiseshell, occasionally with other metals such as pewter, much used on French furniture from the 17th century
Bow front The front of a piece of case furn iture that curves outwards.
Bracket foot A foot used on case pieces from the late 17th century onwards, made of two brackets that have been mitred and joined together at right angles.
breakfront - a piece of furniture having the line of its front broken by a curve or angle.
Breakfront The front of a piece of case furniture, on which a squared centre section protrudes further than the sections at either side.
Buffet A French term for a large, heavy display cupboard with open shelves, used for displaying silverware in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Bun foot A round foot, flattened at the top and bottom, that was first used on case pieces in the late 17th century and then became popular again in the early 19th century.
Bureau A French term for a fall-front or cylinder-top writing desk.
Bureau plat A French term for a flat-topped writing desk. lt often has a tooled leather insert on the writing surface and a single drawer in the shallow frieze below it.
Bureau-bookcase A case piece made in two sections, that has a writing desk in the lower section and a smaller, glazed or panelled section - usually with two doors - above it.
Burr wood A growth on a tree trunk, also known as burlwood, sl ices of which reveal elaborate figuring ideal for decorative veneering.
cabinet painting - a small painting, typically no larger than about two feet in either dimension, but often much smaller. The term is especially used of paintings that show full-length figures at a small scale with a great degree of finish.
Cabriole leg A furniture leg with two curves forming an attenuated S-shape, like an animal leg. Popular in the early 18th century, it was often used on chairs and terminated in a claw-and-ball or stylized paw foot.
canapé - a piece of furniture similar to a couch, and is meant to describe an elegant sofa made out of elaborately carved wood with wooden legs
Canape A French term for a sofa: an upholstered seat with a back and arms, for two or more people.
Cane A lightweight, durable material first imported from the Far East in the late 17th century. Taken from the rattan tree, it was woven to make seats and chair backs.
Cantilever chair A chair with no back legs, in which the weight of the seat is supported by the front legs and base of the chair alone. lt was popular with Modernist designers, who made models in tubular steel.
Carcase The term used to describe the shell of a piece of case furniture before the drawers, doors, shelves, or feet have been added.
Card table A smal I table designed for playing cards, first seen at the end of the 17th century. The top is usually lined with baize and it has compartments for playing pieces.
Cartouche A panel or tablet in the form of a scroll with curled edges, sometimes bearing an inscription, monogram, or coat of arms, and used as a decorative feature.
Caryatid An architectural column in the form of a full-length figure that is used as a support for furniture. lt originated in ancient Greece and was used during the 16th, late 18th, and early 19th centuries.
Case furniture A general term for any storage piece, including chests, bookcases, presses, and wardrobes.
Cassone An ltalian term for a low ehest or coffer made in ltaly in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Caster A small wheel used at the end of a leg to make it easy to move heavy pieces of furniture.
Casting The process of making a solid form from a molten liquid, such as brass or bronze.
certosina - a decorative art technique used widely in the Italian Renaissance period. Similar to marquetry, it uses small pieces of wood, bone, metal, or mother-of-pearl to create inlaid geometric patterns on wood. The term comes from Certosa Church in Pavia, where the technique was used in ornamenting an altarpiece.
Chaise lounge A French term for an upholstered day bed that has a high support at one end. lt is also known as a recamier or a day bed.
Chamfer A term describing a bevelled corner, usually on case pieces, and also referred to as canted.
Chest-on-chest A case piece in two sections, one above the other, each of which has drawers.
Cheval glass A freestanding mirror supported on a four-legged frame. The mirror can be tilted to provide a tu 11-length reflection.
Chevron A zigzag decorative motif, popular in Art Deco design.
chiffonier - -British - similar to a sideboard, but differentiated by its smaller size -American - a tall, narrow and elegant chest of drawers, frequently with a mirror attached on top
Chiffonnier From the French term, chiffoniere, this is a small side cabinet with drawers. A table en chiffoniere has langer legs and a shelf below the drawers.
Chinoiserie A decorative style, popular in the early 18th century, in which fanciful, exotic motifs derived from Chinese originals were applied to European furniture.
chintz - cotton which has been stabilized with sizing. This makes it look shiny.
Chrome A silvery metal usually plated on a base metal such as steel. lntroduced commercially in the 1920s, it was used by designers for tubular-steel furniture because of its good rust-resistance and high sheen.
Claw-and-ball foot A termination for furniture legs that was popular in the early 18th century. lt was said to be based on Chinese examples of a dragon claw clasping a pearl.
clerestory window - windows above
Cloisonne decorative work in which enamel, glass, or gemstones are separated by strips of flattened wire placed edgeways on a metal backing.
Cloven hoof See Hoof foot.
Coffer A low trunk, usually made of wood and known as far back as ancient times. lt was popular until the 18th century, when it was superseded by the ehest of drawers.
Coiffeuse A French term for a dressing table. Columnar Having the shape of, constructed with, or having columns.
COM - customers own material
commode - a chest of drawers or chiffonier of a decorative type popular in the 18th century.
Commode A French term for a ehest with deep drawers. The form was first seen in the late 17th century.
confidante - a type of sofa, originally characterized by a triangular seat at each end, so that people could sit at either end of the sofa and be close to the person(s) sitting in the middle.
Console table A table that has two legs supporting its front, while its back is fixed to a wall.
Corbel A wooden bracket attached to an upright and used to support a horizontal feature, such as an arm on a chair, from below.
Cornice A decorative, moulded projection that crowns a piece of furniture, particularly tall cupboards or display cabinets.
Crest rail See Top rail.
Crossbanding See Banding.
C-scroll A decorative, carved or applied Classical ornament in the shape of a C, developed during the Rococo period. (See also S-Scroll.)
damask- a figured woven fabric with a pattern visible on both sides, typically used for table linen and upholstery.
Damask A rich, woven, silk, linen or cotton fabric with a satin weave, imported to Europe from Syria from the 15th century and used for furnishings from the 16th century.
Davenport A small desk with a sloping writing surface that usually, has a bank of drawers in one side. Day bed See Chaise longue. Demi-lune A French term for a half-moon shape.
dendrochronology - tree-ring dating used to determine the age of a piece of wood. practical applications have been developed for dating furniture.
Dentil pattern An ornamental feature of Classical architecture, dentils are small rectangular blocks, resembling teeth, that run beneath a cornice.
Dovetail A joint, used from the end of the 17th century, in which two pieces of wood are joined together at right angles. Each piece of wood has a row of fan-shaped teeth, which i nterlock at the joi nt.
Dowel A small headless wooden pin used in furniture construction to join two pieces of wood. Each piece of wood to be joined has a round hole, the size of the dowel, i nto wh ich the dowel is inserted and glued.
Dresser A large piece of case furniture, popular since the 17th century, that has a shelved upper section. The lower section usually has a central cupboard flanked by drawers or open shelves.
Dressing table A small table with an arrangement of drawers for holding a lady's or gentleman's personal accessories. The term has been in use since the 17th century.
Drop front See Fall front.
Drop-in seat A removable chair seat that has been made separately and then "dropped" into the seat frame.
Drum table A writing table, used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, that has a round, drum-shaped, leather-covered top and is supported on a central column on a tripod or pedestal base.
Ebeniste The French term for a cabinet-maker, in use from the 17th century and derived from the word ebony. Ebenistes specialized in veneered pieces of furniture.
Ebonized wood Wood that has been stained black in imitation of ebony. lt was popular in the late 18th and late 19th centuries.
Ebony A native hardwood from the Indian subcontinent, that is black and heavy with a smooth, tight grain. lt was popular as a veneer in late 17th-century Europe.
Elm A European and North American hardwood, red-brown in colour, used largely for country furniture. lt was popular as a veneer (burr elm) in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Enamel A coloured, opaque composition derived from glass, sometimes used as a decorative inlay on pieces of furniture.
Encoignure A French term for a small corner cupboard, which often has a graduated shelved interior and short legs. lt first appeared in France in the early 18th century.
Escutcheon A protective and usually ornamental keyhole plate which 1s sometimes in the shape of a shield.
Estampille A French term to describe the stamp on french furniture made by cabinet makers, and bearing their name, ititials or monogram.The practice was compulsory under the guild system in Paris 1751-91.
Etagere The French term for a sei of shelves, which was first used in the late 18th century. lt is usually free-standing, with two to three shelves.
Ewer - A pitcher, especially a decorative one with a base, an oval body, and a flaring spout used for carrying water for someone to wash in.
Faience is the conventional name in English for fine tin-glazed pottery on a delicate pale buff earthenware body. It is originally associated with wares exported from Faenza in northern Italy. The invention of a white pottery glaze suitable for painted decoration, by the addition of an oxide of tin to the slip of a lead glaze, was a major advance in the history of pottery.
Fall front The hinged, flat front of a desk or bureau that falls forwards to form a writing surface. lt is also someti mes known as a drop front.
Fauteuil A French term for a large, upholstered open armchair, first used at the Court of Louis XIV, and popular in the 18th century.
Faux A French word meaning "false", used to describe a paint effect !hat imitates the appearance of another material, such as wood (faux bois) or marble (faux marbre).
Feather banding See Banding.
Festoon A Classical decorative motif in the form of a garland of fruil and flowers tied with ribbons. lt was first used on furniture during the early 17th century, and then again from the late 18th century onwards.
Fibreglass A streng, lightweight, and versatile material made from matted glass fi bres bonded with a synthetic resin. Fibreglass was popularized for making furniture by Charles and Ray Eames in the 1950s.
Fielded panel A raised wooden panel with bevelled edges that sits within a flat outer frame.
Figuring A term denoting the natural grain of any piece of cut wood.
Filigree An arrangement of twisted gold and silver wire soldered into openwork forms or two-dimensional panels and used as decoration.
Finial A decorative turned or carved ornament surmounting a prominent terminal on a chair, a bed, or a case piece, often taking the form of an urn, an acorn, or a pinecone.
flange - A flange is a piece of fabric that extends well beyond the seam. e.g., giving the pillow a soft, fluttery effect.
Fluting Parallel lines of shallow, concave moulding running from the top to the bottom of a column, the opposite of reeding. Fluting was frequently used on table legs in Neoclassical furniture.
Foliate Shaped like a leaf.
Formica A material made from laminated plastic sheets containing melamine. Durable and easy to clean, it was popular for table tops in the 1950s and 60s.
frescoe - a painting done rapidly in watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling, so that the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries. • the fresco method of painting, used in Roman times and by the great masters of the Italian Renaissance including Giotto, Masaccio, and Michelangelo.
fretwork is an interlaced decorative design that is either carved in low relief on a solid background, or cut out with a fretsaw, coping saw, jigsaw or scroll saw. Most fretwork patterns are geometric in design
Fretwork Originally Chinese, this is carved decoration consisting of a number of intersecting, often geometric I i nes, with perforated spaces between them. Fretwork was often used on Chippendale furniture in the Chinoiserie or Gothic styles.
Frieze A Classical term used to describe the horizontal strip !hat supports a table top, or the cornice on a piece of case furniture.
Fumed A term used to describe a technique popular with designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, in which a chemical was used to darken the natural colour of a wood, usually oak, to make it look older.
Gadrooning A row of concave or convex flutes used along the edge of a surface to make it more decorative. Originally a Classical motif, it was popular throughout the 18th century and was applied to chests, highboys, chairs, and tables.
gallery - area with fence or railing around it on a furniture surface
Gallery A small metal or wooden railing around the edge of a tray, table, or cabinet, which was popular from the mid 18th century onwards. Galuchat See Shagreen.
Gateleg table First seen in the late 16th century, this is a table with hinged leaves. When raised, the leaves are supported on pivoting legs joined together by stretchers.
gesso - a white substance laid down as a preparation for substrates such as wood, canvas or sculpture as a base for paint or other materials.
Gesso A composition of gypsum (plaster of Paris) and size, and sometimes linseed eil and glue. Gesso was used as a base for elaborately carved and gilded decoration on furniture during the 17th and early 18th centuries.
Gilding A decorative finish in which gold is applied to wood, leather, silver, ceramics, or glass. The process involves laying gold leaf or powdered gold (or si lver) onto a base, such as gesso. Parcel gilding is the term used when on ly part of the object has been gilded.
Giltwood Wood that has been gilded.
gimp - is a narrow ornamental trim used in sewing or embroidery. It is made of silk, wool, or cotton and is often stiffened with metallic wire or coarse cord running through it. Gimp is used as trimming for dresses, curtains, furniture, etc.
Girandole An ltalian term for an ornate giltwood candleholder that was popular with 18th-century Rococo and Neoclassical designers.
Goüt grec A French term describing the renewed interest in ancient Greece and Rome that resu lted in the Neoclassical style of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Greek key A decorative band of interlocking, geometric, hook-shaped forms. Originally a Classical motif, it was used on Neoclassical furniture.
Gros point A French term for an embroidery stitch in which the sewing thread crosses two threads of the base fabric before the stitch is completed. (See also Petit point.)
Grotesque A type of ornament, popular during the Renaissance, in which real and mythical beasts, human figures, flowers, scrolls, and candelabra were linked together, often in vertical panels.
Gueridon A French term for a small, stand or table, first seen in the 17th century, !hat was usually ornately carved and embellished.
Guilloche A decorative motif !hat takes the form of a continuous band of strands that are twisted or plaited together. First seen in Classical architecture, the motif was popular with Neoclassical designers.
Hairy paw foot Originating in ancient Greece and revived during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this is a leg terminal shaped like a hairy animal's paw, usually a lion's paw.
Hall chair A simple, high-backed chair first seen in the 18th century, and used as a waiting chair in the hallway or corrdor of a grand house.
Hard-paste porcelain is a ceramic material that was originally made from a compound of the feldspathic rock petuntse and kaolin fired at very high temperature, usually around 1400°C. It was first made in China around the 7th or 8th century, and has remained the most common type of Chinese porcelain.
Herringbone banding See Banding.
Highboy An American term for a chest-on-chest, a form made throughout the northern United States from about 1710 onwards. lt was often made with a matching lowboy - a low dressing table or writing table in the same style.
Hoof foot First seen in ancient Egypt, this is a leg terminal shaped like the hoof of a goat or ram. lt was used in Europe from the late 17th century to the end of the 18th century and is also known as a cloven hoof.
Husk motif A stylized ornament in the shape of a husk of corn, which was popular in the late 18th century, when it was used repeated ly to form festoons or swags. lt is known as a bellflower in the United States.
Inlay A decorative technique in which different-coloured woods or exotic materials, such as mother-of- pearl, ivory, and bone, are pieced into the solid wood surface or veneer of a piece of furniture.
Intarsia or inlay is process inserting wood, metal or stone into areas precisely cut out of another object. Started in the seventh century in the Maghreb, or Northern Africa, as it was a technique that lent itself to the design of décor that was non-representational (lacking human form), and in conformity with Islamic design and its adherence to geometric forms. After being perfected in Islamic North Africa, it was introduced nthtleto Christian Europe thru Southern Italy in the early 14th c., Northern Italy in the 15th & 16th c. and into Northern Europe in the late 16th c.
Intarsia First used in the 14th century, this is an ltalian term for a pictorial type of marquetry. lt was often used for decorative panelling on furniture in Renaissance ltaly and 16th-century Germany.
Ivory A durable, cream-coloured material, usually from elephant tusks. lt was used as a decorative inlay on l 7th-century furniture and on some French Art Deco pieces.
japanning - the process of covering a piece of furniture with a hard black varnish.
Japanning A decorative technique, dating from the 17th century, in which furniture is coated with layers of coloured varnish in imitation of true Chinese or Japanese lacquer.
jardiniere - an ornamental pot or stand for the display of growing plants
Jardiniere A French term for a large ornamental vessel, usually ceramic, for hold i ng cut flowers or for growi ng plants. lt was was popular in Europe from the 17th century onwards.
Kas A Dutch term for a !arge provincial clothes cupboard !hat originated in the Low Countries in the 17th century and was introduced to America by Dutch settlers in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Kingwood A Brazilian hardwood introduced to Europe in the late 17th century and often used for marquetry and banding.
Klismos chair A chair with a broad, curved top rail and concave sabre legs, that originated in ancient Greece and was popular in Greek- revival furniture of around 1800.
Kneehole desk A desk with a top that is supported on two banks of drawers either side of a kneehole, a central recess for the sitter's knees. First seen in late l 7th-century France and the Low Countries, it remains a popular form to this day.
kylix - is a greek drinking glass…it is very flat.
Lacca povera An ltalian term, meaning "poor man's lacquer", that describes a form of decoupage, in which sheets of engravings were coloured, cut, and pasted onto the prepared surface of a piece of furniture, then varnished to produce a high-gloss finish. The technique originated in Venice in the 1750s.
Lacquerwork A technique originating in the Far East, in which resin, made from the sap of the Rhus tree, is applied to furniture in many layers in order to produce a smooth, lustrous, hard-weari ng fi n ish.
Ladder-back chair A country chair with a back made up of a number of horizontal rails, like the rungs of a ladder, between the uprights. lt usually has a rush seat and was one of the chairs made by the Shakers.
Lamination A process in which thin sheets of wood are gl ued together with the grain at right angles. Lamination was first used as far back as the mid 19th century by John Henry Belter in the United States, and was then used to make plywood in the 20th century.
leadlights and stained glass - Similarities/Differences Both are constructed by setting glass into lead cames. 1. Stained glass windows are traditionally pictorial or of elaborate design, 2. Leadlight windows are generally non-pictorial, containing geometric designs using quarries, pieces of glass cut into regular geometric shapes. sometimes square, rectangular or circular but most frequently diamond-shaped, creating a "diaper" pattern.
Library table A large writing table designed to stand in the centre of a library. lt was popular during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Limed oak A process, introduced in the early 20th century, in which oak is treated with lime, producing white streaks on its surface. Linen press A large cupboard or cabinet for storing linen. Lion's-paw foot A leg terminal carved in the shape of a lion's paw, a popular Regency and Empire motif.
Lopers A pair of sliding runners that are pulled forwards to support the lid of a fall-front desk when it is open.
Lowboy See Highboy.
lurex - a type of yarn or fabric that incorporates a glittering metallic thread.
lustreware is a type of pottery or porcelain with a metallic glaze that gives the effect of iridescence, produced by metallic oxides in an overglaze finish, which is given a second firing at a lower temperature in a "muffle kiln", reduction kiln, which excludes oxygen.
Lyre motif A Neoclassical motif based on the ancient Greek musical instrument and used as an ornamental shape or decoration for chair backs and table supports.
Mackmurdo FootArthur Heygate Mackmurdo made Arts and Crafts furniture in England beginning in the 1880s. Many of his tables and desks have straight rectangular legs. The bottom of a leg widened out into a square foot
Mahogany A Central and South American hardwood imported into Europe in large quantities from 1730. lt is reddish-brown in colour, with a light grain.
maiolica - also called Majolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance period. It is decorated in colours on a white background, sometimes depicting historical and mythical scenes, these works known as istoriato wares
Maioloca, also called Majolica, is Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance period. It is decorated in colours on a white background, sometimes depicting historical and mythical scenes, these works known as istoriato wares ("painted with stories").
Maple A European hardwood, pale in colour, which was used in marquetry during the 17th and 18th centuries. lt was sometimes stained black to resemble ebony, a much more expensive wood.
Maquette A model for a larger piece of sculpture, created in order to visualise how it might look and to work out approaches and materials for how it might be made
Marquetry A decorative veneer made up of shaped pieces of wood in different colours that are pieced together to form a pattern or picture. The technique was perfected by the Dutch, who produced fine examples of floral marquetry during the 16th century. In seaweed marquetry, used on chests of drawers and cabinets in the late 17th century, richly figured timbers, such as holly and boxwood, were used to create a seaweed effect. See also Parquetry.
Marquetry is an assembly of veneers applied in curves and natural patterns on the face of an object usually over its entire surface
Mask A decorative motif representing the head of a human, a god, an animal, bird, or monster. Originally a Classical motif, it was also used during the Renaissance and on Neoclassical furniture.
Medallion An ornamental relief set within a circular or oval frame.
Menuisier A French term for a joiner or skilled craftsman who produced small pieces made of plain wood (as compared to an ebeniste, who specialized in veneered pieces).
Metamorphic furniture Furniture that has been designed for more than one purpose, such as a chair that can change i nto a set of I i brary steps.
Monart Glass Monart and Vasart glass objects, such as paperweights, vases and dishes, are characterised by vibrant marbled colours combined with subtle hues and inclusions of mica flecks and bubbles.
Mortise and tenon An early type of joint in which one piece of wood has a projecting piece (tenon), that fits snugly into a hole (mortise) in the second piece of wood. The joint may also be pegged, using a dowel that passes through holes drilled in both pieces of wood, to make the joint more secure.
Mother-of-pearl A pale, shiny, iridescent material found lining some sea shells, and used as a decorative inlay on furniture.
Moulding A strip of wood applied to the surface of a piece of furniture to add decorative detail or to conceal a joint. Mouldings were used from the 18th century onwards.
Mount A collective term for brass, ormolu, or bronze decorative details that were applied to furniture made in the late 17th and 18th centuries, particularly in France. lnitially applied to provide protection from knocks, and wear and tear, mounts eventually became purely decorative.
niche - a shallow recess, especially one in a wall to display a statue or other ornament.
Oak A native European and North American hardwood that produces a light, honey-coloured timber. Oak has been used to make furniture since the Middle Ages, and was the favourite timber of the 19th-century Arts and Crafts furniture-makers.
Occasional table A small table that can be used for different purposes and moved from room to room.
Ogee moulding A form of moulding, originally used in Gothic architecture, that has a shallow S-shaped curve in cross-section.
ormolu - an alloy of copper and zinc used to imitate gold.
Ormolu An English term derived from the French term or moulu, meaning "ground gold", denoting a process of gilding bronze for decorative mounts.
Oyster veneer Late 17th and early 18th-century veneer made from diagonal cross-sections of smal 1 pieces of wood arranged to produce a repeating pattern of small rings.
Pad foot A popular terminal for a cabriole leg, this is a rounded foot that rests on a circular base.
Padouk A heavy, reddish hardwood that was i mported by the Dutch and Portuguese from the Far East, and was often used as a component of veneers during the 18th century.
Palladian A restrained Classical style of architecture and decorative features that was derived from the works of the ltalian architect, Andrea Palladio (1518-80).
Palmette A Classical decorative motif that is based on the fan-like shape of a palm leaf. lt was widely used as ornament on Neoclassical furniture in the late 18th century.
Papier mache A lightweight material made from dampened paper and paste, which can be moulded into any shape. Popular in furniture-making in the 18th and 19th centuries, pieces were often gilded, painted, japanned, and then varnished for decorative effect.
Parcel gilding See Gilding.
Parquetry A decorative veneer made up of a mosaic of small pieces of wood in contrasting colours pieced together to form a geometric pattern. A variation of marquetry, it was used on walnut-veneered furniture in the 18th century and with consummate skill on Louis XV furniture.
Parquetry is an assembly of veneers or blocks applied in a geometric pattern on the face of an object usually over its entire surface
Pate de Verre A form of kiln casting and literally translated means glass paste. In this process, finely crushed glass is mixed with a binding material, such as a mixture of gum arabic and water, and often with colourants and enamels. The resultant paste is applied to the inner surface of a negative mould forming a coating. After the coated mould is fired at the appropriate temperature the glass is fused creating a hollow object that can have thick or thin walls depending on the thickness of the pate de verre layers. Daum, a French commercial crystal manufacturer, produces highly sculptural pieces in pate de verre.
Patera An oval or circular ornament on a flat surface, which is often decorated with a floral design, a rosette, or fluting. Paterae were popular with Neoclassical designers.
pâte-sur-pâte is a French term meaning "paste on paste". It is a method of porcelain decoration in which a relief design is created on an unfired, unglazed body by applying successive layers of white slip (liquid clay) with a brush.
Patina A sheen on the surface of metal and furniture, the result of years of handling and a gradual build-up of dirt and polish. Pedestal table A round or square table raised on a single central pillar or column, often with a tripartite base. This type of table was popular in Britain in the 18th century.
Pediment An architectural term for the triangular gable found above the portico of a Greek temple, a feature adopted in Europe from the 16th century onwards and applied to the tops of case pieces of furniture, such as bookcases and highboys. Furniture pediments were created in a variety of different shapes.
Pegged joint A joint in wh ich two pieces of wood are held together by pegs driven through drilled holes.
Pembroke table A small table, often with an elaborately inlaid table top, that has two trieze drawers, two drop leaves, and is usually on legs with casters. lt was made in Britain from the mid 18th century onwards.
Penwork A technique in which the entire surface of a piece of furniture is japanned black before being worked with an intricate, decorative pattern of white japanning.
Petit point A French term for an embroidery stitch in which the sewing thread crosses one thread of the base fabric before the stitch is completed. (See also Gros point.)
pewter - silver with an lead alloy in it.
piano nobile - the main story of a large house (usually the first floor), containing the principal rooms.
Pier glass A tall, narrow mirror designed to hang between two windows, often above a pier table.
Pier table A small table designed to stand against a pier (see above). lt was popular from the 17th century onwards and was often paired with a pier glass of the same design.
Pier A term for the area of a wall between two windows, doors, or other open i ngs in a room.
Pietra dura An ltalian term for an expensive form of inlay using semi-precious stones, such as jasper and lapis lazuli, to create decorative panels for cabinets and table tops. First evident in ltaly during the Renaissance, the technique was very popular during the 17th century.
Pietre dure is the inlay technique using highly polished colored stones inserted precisely into a stone object to create an image.
Pilaster An architectural term for a flattened column attached to the surface of a case piece of furniture as a form of decoration, rather than for support. Pilasters usually flank cupboard doors or drawers, and are often topped with capitals.
Pilgrim Bottle a vessel with a body varying from an almost full circle, flattened, to a pear shape with a shortish neck, a spreading foot, and, generally, two loops on the shoulders. Through the loops either a chain or a cord was passed for carrying the bottle or for maintaining the stopper in place.
Pine An inexpensive, light-coloured, straight-grained softwood, used predominantly for drawer linings and the backboards of furniture.
Plastic A synthetic material, first popularized in the 1920s, that can be moulded into shape while soft, then sei into a rigid form.
Plique-à-jour (French for "letting in daylight") is a vitreous enamelling technique where the enamel is applied in cells, similar to cloisonné, but with no backing in the final product, so light can shine through the transparent or translucent enamel. The technique was developed in Byzantine Empire in 6th century AD.
Plywood A composite wood made of several layers of laminated wood laid at right angles to each other. The flexibility of thin plywood was useful in forming curved pieces of furniture in the 1920s and 1930s.
Polyurethane foam A synthetic substance used to fill seat cushions and backs, introduced in the 1960s.
Porcelain A mixture of china clay and china stone that becomes hard, translucent, and white when fired.
portiere - a curtain hung over a door or doorway.
Portiere a hanging curtain placed over a door or over the doorless entrance to a room.
pouf - a large solid cushion, usually cylindrical or cubic in shape, used as a seat
Pressed glass Glass that has been shaped by being pressed in a mould. The technique was developed in the United States in the 1820s.
Pressed steel Steel that has been shaped by being pressed in a mould, a technique that was developed in the mid 20th century.
provenance - the place of origin or earliest known history of something. A record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.
Putto An ltalian term for a cherub or boy, usually naked and sometimes winged, denoting a motif widely used during the Renaissance and, in particular, during the 17th century.
Quarries pieces of glass cut into regular geometric shapes. sometimes square, rectangular or circular but most frequently diamond-shaped, creating a "diaper" pattern.
Quatrefoil A Gothic decorative motif, often used in tracery, of four asymmetrical leaves resembling a four-leafed clover. Similar motifs with three leaves (trefoil) and five leaves (cinquefoil) are also common.
quoins - masonry blocks at the corner of a wall
Rail A horizontal strip of wood on a furniture frame, such as those joining the legs of a table or chair, or the piece of wood joining the uprights of a chair back.
Recamier See Chaise longue.
Reeding Parallel convex moulding running from the top to the bottom of a column, the opposite of fluting. Reeding was used from the late 18th century onwards as decoration on table and chair legs. Relief Carved, moulded, or stamped decorative features that rise above the surface of a piece of furniture. Prominent patterns are known as high relief and less prominent patterns as low rel ief. Reverse painted An image that has been painted in reverse on the inner surface of glass.
repoussé - hammered metal over wood
Ribbon back A term that descri bes chair backs that have been carved to look like ribbons tied in bows. A popular design during the mid 18th century, it was a typical feature of the Chippendale chair.
Rocaille A French term meaning "rockwork", which denotes the asymmetrical rock and shell forms characteristic of the Rococo style.
Rosette Of ancient origin, this is a decorative motif in the shape of a rose, which is often used as a disc ornament or as a circular patera.
Rosewood A rich reddish-brown hardwood with an even grain, richly marked with dark stripes. lt was used from the 18th century onwards as a veneer, during the Regency period in solid form for whole pieces of furniture, and became popular again in the mid 20th century.
Sabot A meta! shoe-fitting at the bottom of a cabriole leg.
Sabre leg A leg with a gentle concave curve, predominantly seen on chairs, that was widely used on Regency, Empire, and Federal furniture during the first half of the 19th century.
Saddle seat A wooden seat that is raised at the centre and scooped away at the sides and back, to look like a saddle. lt is a common feature of Windsor chairs.
Sang-de-boeuf glaze an opaque claret red to brownish red reduced copper glaze developed in China and used chiefly on porcelain wares
Satinwood A fine-grained, golden-yellow exotic hardwood used for fine-cut veneers. lt was very popular in Britain during the late 18th and early 19th centuries
scagliola - (from the Italian scaglia, meaning "chips"), is a technique for producing stucco columns, sculptures, and other architectural elements that resemble inlays in marble and semi-precious stones. The Scagliola technique came into fashion in 17th-century Tuscany as an effective substitute for costly marble inlays, the pietra dura works created for the Medici family in Florence.
The technique takes a plaster-like substance, to which colour pigments and small pieces of stone such as granite, marble, and alabaster are added and polishes it to look like marble or pietra dura.
Scalloped A term used to descri be a wavy edge or border resembling the edge of a scallop shell.
Schrank A German term for a cupboard, generally associated with the large, heavy, two-door cupboards of the 17th and early 18th centuries. Sconce A candleholder designed to be mounted on a wall. lt has an arm or bracket for holding the candle and a backplate for reflecti ng the I ight of the candle around a room.
Scroll foot A foot that term i nates in a scroll or spiral form. lt was usually seen on a cabriole leg and was fashionable in the mid 18th century.
Seal rail See Rail.
Seaweed marquetry See Marquetry.
Secrêtaire á abattant A French term for a free-standing writing cabinet. lt often has a slim drawer beneath the top, and a fall-front writing surface. Below that, there is an arrangement of drawers or cupboards. The form was popular in France during the late 18th century.
Secretaire A French term for a large cabinet in two sections, popular in the late 18th century. The lower section has a fall front that drops down to provide a writing surface and reveals a number of pigeonholes and drawers. Above this there is usually a bookcase or glazed cabinet.
Semainier A French term for a lall, narrow ehest with seven drawers, one for each day of the week, which was first made in the 18th century.
Serpentine A wavy or undulating surface. A commode with a serpentine front has a protruding central section and concave ends. Serpentine stretchers are curved cross-stretchers.
settee - a small sofa with two arms and a back. It usually seats two and is more upright and slender than a typical sofa. Unlike most sofas, a settee can easily look at home in an entryway, in a bedroom or even pulled up to the dining table, thanks to its elegant proportions and upright posture.
Settee A seat for two or more people, with a low back and open arms. Sometimes made with an upholstered seat, the settee was more comfortable than a settle and was seen in various forms in Europe from the 17th century onwards.
Settle A wooden ehest or bench with a high back and open arms. First made in the Middle Ages, the form was revived by the Arts and Crafts Movement in the late 19th century.
shagreen - sh arkskin used as a decorative material or, for its natural rough surface of pointed scales, as an abrasive
Shagreen Shark or ray skin, used by some l ?th- and 18th-century designers as an inlay, and revived in the work of Art Deco designers in the early 20th century. lt is also known by the French term ga/uchat.
Shantung fabric is a type of silk fabric historically from the province of Shandong, China. It is similar to Dupioni, but is slightly thinner and less irregular. Shantung is often used for bridal gowns.
Shell motif The scallop shell was a popular Rococo decorative motif, appearing on the knees of cabriole legs and at the centre of aprons on American Queen Anne case pieces.
Slip is a liquefied suspension of clay particles in water. It differs from its very close relative, slurry, in that it is generally thinner. Slip has more clay content than its other close relative, engobe and is usually the consistency of heavy cream. It is often used in decoration and may be left the natural color of the clay body from which it is made, or it may be colored with oxides. It is applied to wet or soft leather-hard greenware.
smalls - accessories
Sofa table A lang, narrow table with a drop leaf at either end and drawers. Designed to stand behind a sofa, it was popular during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Sofa A fully upholstered seat for two or more people, a less formal version of the settee. lt was made from the late 17th century onwards.
Spade foot A rectangular, tapered foot, similar in shape to a spade, usually seen an table legs from the end of the 18th century onwards.
Sphinx An ancient Egyptian form that has the head of a wo man, the body of a lion, and wings. lt was popularized by Napoleon during the Empire period and again by Art Deco designers in the 20th century.
Spindle A thin piece of wood turned an a lathe and used as an upright on a chair. Large numbers of spindles sometimes form the uprights of a gallery on a case piece of furniture.
Splat The flat, vertical, central part of a chair back. Back splats can be either solid or pierced, and are usually shaped. They are important indicators of period styles.
Squab cushion A removable cushion for a chair, sofa, or settee.
S-scroll A decorative carved or applied Classical ornament in the shape of an S, developed during the Rococo period. (See C-Scroll.)
Stainless steel See Steel.
Steel A hard, durable metal, made of a combination of iron and carbon. First used in various forms on 16th- and 17th-century furniture, it was adopted by 20th-century designers in modified forms, such as tubular steel, chromed steel, and stainless steel (a non-corrosive alloy of steel, nickel, and chrome).
Strapwork A form of ornament that looks like a scrolling pattern of bands or straps. Originating in the work of an ltalian Mannerist painter, it became very popular in the late 16th and early 17th centuries and was often applied to furniture.
Streamlined A term borrowed from engineering and used to describe American Art Deco furniture with smooth, clean-lined shapes in the 1920s and 1930s.
Streicher A rod or bar extending between two legs of a chair or table.
Stringing Narrow lines of inlay on a piece of furniture, used to create a simple, decorative border around drawer fronts or table tops. lt was popular in the late 18th century.
studiolo is a small room, often lavishly decorated, dedicated to reading, studying and writing.
Stuffover Upholstery that covers the entire wooden frame of a sofa or chair, so that none of it is visible.
Sunburst motif First popularized by Louis XIV in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, the motif of the sun surrounded by rays was later used in styl ized form by Art Deco designers.
Swag A Classical decorative motif of a hanging garland of fruit, husks, flowers, or laurel leaves. Swags often featured in inlays or formed part of a frieze on a table. They were widely used on Neoclassical furniture.
tabouret - 1. a short stool without a back or arms. The name is derived from its resemblance to a drum. Often with curule like legs. Common in 17th century France 2. a portable cabinet commonly used by artists.
Tabouret A French term for a low, upholstered footstool that was originally shaped like a drum.
Tambour A flexible, slatted, sliding shutter on a roll-top desk, made of thin strips of wood laid side by side and glued to a canvas backing.
Teak A heavy, deep-brown, oily hardwood used to make furniture since the 18th century. lt was much favoured by Scandinavian designers during the 1950s and 1960s.
Tenmoku Glaze is an iron-based glaze common in Japanese pottery since the 14th century. During heating and cooling, several factors influence the formation of iron crystals within the glaze. During a long firing process, a clay body heavily colored with iron provides an opportunity for iron from the clay to be drawn into the glaze. While the glaze is molten, iron can migrate within the glaze to form surface crystals, as in the "oil spot" glaze, or remain in solution deeper within the glaze for a rich glossy color.
Tenon See Mortise and tenon.
testor - a canopy, usually of carved or cloth-draped wood, over a bed, tomb, pulpit, or throne.
Thuyawood A native African reddish- brown hardwood, with a bird's-eye figure. lt was popular as a veneer during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Tilt-top table A table with a top that has been h i nged to its base an one side, so that it can be tilted into a vertical position, enabling the table to be stored flat against a wall.
tin-glazed pottery is earthenware covered in glaze containing tin oxide which is white, shiny and opaque (see tin-glazing for the chemistry); usually this provides a background for brightly-painted underglaze decoration.
toile de Jouy - Refers to distinctive printed textiles manufactured by the Oberkampf manufactory in Jouy-en-Josas, near Versailles, France, from 1760 onward. The designs were originally printed on cotton or linen from woodblocks; later works were printed from copperplates as well. It is typically characterized by large-scale, monochromatic floral designs or figural scenes. It is often made into hangings or covers for furnishings.
Tongue and groove A wood joint in which a tongue along one side of a strip of wood fits into a groove along an adjoining strip of wood.
Tooling A technique of decorating leather either by embossing, gilding, or incising, often seen as the border of a leather i nsert an a writi ng table.
Top rail The highest horizontal bar on the back of a chair. lt is also sometimes called a crest rail.
Torchere A French term for a lamp-or candlestand, usually a tall table with a small top supported on a column. Torcheres were popular in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
Tortoiseshell A shiny, translucent material made from the shells of the Hawksbill turtle. Tortoiseshell can be heat-moulded, carved, and coloured, and was used for inlays, particularly in 17th and 18th-century Boulle marquetry. Nowadays, tortoiseshell is usually imitated in celluloid.
Tracery A delicate, lattice-like form of decoration based on the elaborate shapes of Gothic church windows.
trapunto, from the Italian for "to quilt," is a method of quilting that is also called "stuffed technique. trapunto utilizes at least two layers, the underside of which is slit and padded, producing a raised surface on the quilt.
Trefoil See Quatrefoil.
Trestle table A simple form of large dining table in which flat boards, usually made of oak, rest on one, two, or more trestles (pairs of splayed legs). Trestle tables were in wide use from the Middle Ages to the 17th century.
Tripod table A small, occasional pedestal table supported by three splayed legs. The form was popular in late 18th-century furniture.
triptych - a picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together side by side and used as an altarpiece.
trumeau - a section of wall or a pillar between two openings, especially a pillar dividing a large doorway in a church.
Tubular steel Lightweight and strong hollow steel tubes, which can be bent into any shape. Favoured for its durable, easy-to-clean qualities and its industrial appeal, it was widely used by Modemist designers during the first half of the 20th century.
tussah silk This luxury fibre has a beautiful natural shine and it is very durable. Tussah silk is produced by tussah silkworms and is usuallya beautiful natural golden colour but can vary from pale cream to a dark rich brown. Tussah silkmoth caterpillars eat oak leaves or other leaves rich in tannin and it is the tannin that gives the colour to this silk. Tussah silk is not as fine as mulberry silk (the fibres vary from 26 to 36 micron in diameter whilst mulberry silk is 10 to 14 microns), but it is stronger and more durable.
Varguefio One of the most popular types of furniture in Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries, this is a writing cabinet on a ehest or stand. lt usually has a drop front and is elaborately carved or decorated.
vargueno - a decorative writing cabinet of a form originating in Spain, composed of a rectangular chest supported on legs or a decorative framework, and having the front opening downward on hinges to serve as a writing desk
Velveteen is a type of cloth made to imitate velvet. Normally cotton, the term is sometimes applied to a mixture of silk and cotton. Some velveteens are a kind of fustian, having a rib of velvet pile alternating with a plain depression
Veneer A thin layer of fine wood that is applied to the surface of a carcase made of a coarser, cheaper wood, for decorative effect. Veneers were widely used from the second half of the 17th century onwards.
Verdigris A green or bluish chemical deposit that forms on copper, brass, or bronze after a period of time.
vernis Martin is a type (or a number of types) of Japanning or imitation lacquer named after the French Martin brothers: Guillaume, Etienne-Simon, Robert and Julien
Verre eglomise A French term for a technique of decorating glass, in which the back of the glass is covered in a layer of gold or si lver leaf, and a design is then etched or engraved an the leaf. The technique was used during the 18th century.
verse eglomise - a French term referring to the process of applying both a design and gilding onto the rear face of glass to produce a mirror finish.
Vinyl A revolutionary plastic with great durability and flexibility that was developed during the 1940s. lt was primarily used by furniture designers in the 1950s and 1960s for covering chair seats. Vitruvian scroll A wave-like series of scrolls used as a decorative motif - carved, painted, or gilded - on friezes. Originating as Classical ornament, it was widely used on Neoclassical furniture in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
vitrine - a glass display case.
Volute A Classical motif, this is a spiralling scroll, thought to resemble the horns of a ram. Used si nce the Renaissance, the motif was popularized in Neoclassical design.
Walnut A European and North American native hardwood that produces a rich brown timber when cut. Walnut was popular in Europe, both in the solid and as a veneer, from the mid 17th to the early 18th century. Surr walnut, which is highly figured, was frequently used as a decorative veneer.
weft - (in weaving) the crosswise threads on a loom over and under which other threads (the warp) are passed to make cloth.
welt - a fabric covered cord that follows the seam of a chair cushion, sofa cushion, or pillows.
Wickerwork Known since ancient times, this is made by weaving rods of cane or willow together to form a flat, durable surface, ideal for making seats for chairs.
Windsor chair A country chair with a bentwood back and a wooden seat, into which the chair legs are pegged. An early 18th-century form, the chair was first made around the town of Windsor in England.
Worktable A small table that was often fitted with drawers or shelves and a hanging bag used for storing needlework and sewing materials. lt was popular during the 18th century.
worsted-spun yarns, used to create worsted fabric, are spun from fibres that have been combed, to ensure that the fibres all run the same direction, butt-end (for wool, the end that was cut in shearing the sheep) to tip, and remain parallel. A short draw is used in spinning worsted fibres (as opposed to a long draw).
Zopfstil The late 18th-century German term for Neoclassicism, which takes its name from Classical braided friezes and festoons - Zopf means "braid" in German.