Glossary of Art and Antique terms
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- abstract: Category of non-objective images in modified form by distortion or simplification. Abstraction is the category of such modified images. (See also .)
- abacus: The topmost horizontal tablet of a column's capital to support the architrave.
- Acacia: Trees of genus Acacia similar to locust trees. Some Australian and Sandwich Islands varieties produce beautiful veneers in a wide range of colors from yellow, red and green.
- Acanthus leaf: Decorative wood carving motive design based on the leaf of acanthus plants, common in 18th century. (genus Acanthus has large pointed leaves with a white-purple flower native to Mediterranean) Classic Greek and Roman origin found on the capital of Corinthian columns.
- acorn: An acorn-shaped wood turned ornament common in Jacobean furniture as finials on chair and bedposts, as pendants and profiles of table leg turnings.
- Acroterium: Ornaments on top corners of secretaries, bookcases, highboys, and other prominent furniture. Originally an ornament on the roof corners of classic Greek temples.
- Adam style: British neoclassical style established by architect-designer brothers Robert and James Adam that predominated from about 1760 to 1790. The Adam style was a reaction to the bolder and more fancy rococo style of the 1750s, it is characterized by slender, graceful lines, refined shapes, and restrained ornamentation.
- Adelphi: The trade name or signature of the Adams brothers.
- adaptation: Reproduction version in the style of original design or period, but not true to form.
- Afleck, Thomas: 18th century master cabinetmaker of Chippendale style. Moved to Philadelphia from London in 1763, died 1795.
- Age of Oak, Walnut, Mahogany, Satinwood: English periods defined by the wood most used in furniture, as by MacQuoid :
Age of Oak, 1500-1660; Age of Walnut, 1660-1720
Age of Mahogany, 1720-1765; Age of Satinwood, 1765-1800
- Alcove: Part of a room that is recessed for a bed bookcase, cabinet, dining group, etc. Specialized beds were designed for alcoves in the 18th century. Bed alcoves existed in Pompeian rooms, and was common in northern Europe from the Middle Ages onward.
- Alder: Strong hard, wood similar to maple, readily accepts stains imitating darker woods.
- alla prima: (ah-la pree-ma) Italian term, meaning to paint directly, without first drawing or under painting.
- Amaranth: Purple toned wood used in veneers since the 18th century; also known as "purple heart" and "violet wood".
- Amboyna: East Indian wood, used as inlay and veneer since Roman times. It's burls are light red-brown, curled and highly mottled.
- Ambry: A recess for storage in medieval churches; adding doors gives the cupboard form. English cupboards are large with doors and fitted with shelves for storage.
- Angel Bed: a canopied bed with no front support.
- Antiquing: Process to age wood furniture by applying a glazes of color, then rubbing surface coat to revel the base color underneath. Enhanced with crackled and aged paint and varnishes.
- Apothecary Chest: A small chest of drawers used to store herbs for cooking and medicinal uses.
- Apron: A detailed lower structural panel skirt and rail profile that connects legs of furniture.
- Apple wood: Fine fruit hardwood used in colonial furniture.
- Armoire: Tall and upright wardrobe, closet or cupboard with doors, shelves, rails, hooks for clothing storage; used as modern entertainment center or computer station.
- armchair: Seat with both armrests and a backrest (see bergère and fauteuil).
- Art Deco: c. 1920-30's Style introduced from Paris exposition in 1925 celebrating art and industry in denouncing of Art Nouveau. 1930s American designers took this look further using asymmetry, smooth flowing streamlined forms, geometric styles in art, architecture and household furnishings.
- Art Nouveau: c. 1880-1910 A French style of flowing and nearly freeform shapes using elonged, shallow curved lines ending in a more whip like second curve. This "new art" was most popular in Europe, example Tiffany lamps with simple, flowing, ornate lines form nature.
- Arts and Crafts: c. late 1800s - 1920s A furniture style and movement from end of 19th century England in reaction to the Victorian era excesses and the Gay Nineties. Also called Mission style, this movement sought to replace mass-produced Victorian furniture with simple hand craftsmanship, before it waned with the onset of World War I. Typically a deliberately simple shape, blocked, rectangular oak furniture style with exposed joinery and minimal ornamentation. America's Gustav Stickley and England's William Morris and John Ruskin are pre-eminently known.
- A.S.I.D.: American Society of Interior Designers.
- Ash: Native hardwood of high strength and durability, widely used for framing furniture. Characteristics are an oak-like grain resembling pecan or hickory.
- Aspen: 'White' poplar wood with a light-colored surface luster.
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