Glossary

À Chassis – The upholstery is easily removed and changed for every season.

 

Acanthus – Classical origin, used extensively as decoration on furniture and accessories. Ornament representing stylized form of scallop edge leaf.

 

Amphora – Neo-Classical decorative two handled urn.

 

Apron or Frieze ornamental structure below table tops or beneath seat rail of chair or settee.

 

Armoire – wardrobe

 

Armoire à Glace – wardrobe with mirror

 

Bergères – An enclosed upholstered French armchair.

 

Bergères à oreilles –“An armchair with ears” – An enclosed upholstered French armchair with an upholstered back and wings that shield the face from fireplace heat or from drafts of air.

 

Bibliothèque – Bookcase.

 

Biscuit de Sèvres – A biscuit is baked earthenware without glaze or enamel.The first executions in porcelain biscuit were made in the mid-18th century at the Sèvres factory in order to distinguish itself from the polychromatic productions of the Meissen manufacture.

 

Blanc de Chine – Is a type of white Chinese porcelain, made at Dehua in the Fujian province. A traditional European term for it is Blanc de Chine , French for “White from China”. It has been produced from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) to the present day.

 

Bonheur du JourA lady’s small writing desk with drawers above a writing surface in the form of a flap.

 

Bouillotte Lamp – A lamp with one or several candlesticks with a non-flammable adjustable shade. Often made of tôle – a painted or lacquered metal, reflective white on the inside, dark on the outside, that can be lowered as the candles burned down.

 

Boulle – Brass and tortoiseshell design named after renowned cabinet maker Charles Andre Boulle the preeminent artist in the field of marquetry who was famous for this design combination

BureauFrench term for desk.

 

Bureau à Cylindre – Cylinder desk.

 

Bureau de DameLady’s writing desk.

 

Bureau PlatFlat top writing desk.

 

Cabochon – small round or oval raised decoration.

 

CachepotsTabletop receptacle into which, plants may be placed.

 

Cabriole leg – Stylized form of elongated S shaped leg popular in 18 and 19 century Europe.

 

Capitol or Crown – Head or crowning feature.

 

Cartonnier – French designed narrow cabinet with six drawers.

 

Cartouche – motif with curled or rolled edges often used as a surround for crests and inscriptions.

 

Caryatide – Architectural decorative support or design element in the form of a female figure. Popular since the Renaissance and seen in Rococo and Neo-Classical Periods.

 

CassolettesVases with lids, sometimes holds a candle or pot pourri.

 

ChenetsAndirons to place in front of a fireplace.

 

ChiffonnierFive to Six drawer chest.

 

Chûtes or chandelles – Bronze mounts usually at the top of legs.

 

Cloisonné – An ancient technique for decorating objects with enamel and gemstones.

 

Coiffeuse – Dressing table.

 

CommodeChest of drawers.

 

Commode De Château – Chest of certain importance typically created for noble residences.

 

Cornice- highest part of case pieces such as bookcases and cabinets.

 

Cornucopia –  Classical motif  in the shape of a horn out of which spill fruit, vegetables and flowers. A symbol of abundance popular during the Baroque and Rococo Periods.

 

Coquillage – form of decorative shell motif  popular during the Baroque and Rococo Periods.

 

Crouch mahogany – Wood cut from the fork in branches of the mahogany tree. Prized for its feathery grain.

 

Deux-CorpsAn armoire or cabinet in two parts.

 

Dentil motif – A series of equally spaced square of rectangular tooth like blocks.

 

Dessert ConsoleConsole with marble top to place food and sometimes with side shelves for display.

 

Dos à Dos  – Upholstered double seat for sitting back to back (Dos à Dos).

 

Duchesse  – Daybed.

 

Duchesse Brisé – Seating in three parts consisting of a large armchair, a stool, and a small armchair. Occasionally found in two parts, forming two armchairs.

 

Egg and Dart motif – A decorative motif classical in origin consisting of oval or egg shapes alternating with arrow heads.

 

Encoignure – French form of corner cabinet.

 

Escritoire  or Table à Ecrire, – small writing desk with pull out writing surface

 

Escutcheon – Metal plate fitted around a keyhole for protection and decoration.

 

Etagere – Set of shelves used to display objects, sometimes with drawers or doors.

 

Ébéniste – French term meaning “cabinet maker” designating a high-grade craftsman specializing in the art of veneering.

 

FauteuilA wooden seat in the form of an armchair with open sides and upholstered arms.

 

Faux Bois: the artistic imitation of wood or wood grains in various media. French for “false wood,” faux bois is a fitting name for items that appear plucked from the forest but are actually made of cast stone, cast iron, or cement, or are painted to have a woodsy look. Although earthy and rustic, faux bois makes a splendid match for polished pieces.

 

Finial -An ornament used as a terminating motif usually in the form of a ball, flame, flower, acorn, pineapple, or vase.

 

Fleur de LysA stylized lily that is used as a decorative design or symbol, largely associated with the French monarchy.

 

Fluting -Decoration formed by making parallel, concave grooves. In classical architecture they are commonly seen on column shafts and run in a vertical direction.

 

Fut – The central column, often of a chandelier or pedestal table.

 

Garniture setA 3-piece set of a clock and a pair of candelabras.

 

Girandole – Elaborate candelabra associated with Rococo and Neo-Classical design. Also refers to heavily carved or glided sconces or wall brackets with mirrored backplates to reflect the candlelight.

 

Gilding – The decoration of an object with a thin layer of gold, gold leaf or gold foil.

 

Grisaille – Painting in shades of black, grey and white which attempts to imitate marble relief ornament. Frequently applied to furniture during the Renaissance and Neo-Classical periods.

 

Guéridon – A small circular top table supported by one or more columns or figures.

 

Guéridon à Abattant – Circular tilt top table.

 

ImariHeavily decorated Japanese porcelain with over glaze enamels and gilding. Popular in the first half of the 18th century.

 

Inlay – Form of decoration used in furniture and ceramics, inlay is when part of a surface is removed and replaced with a contrasting material.

 

Jardinière – A stand upon which, or into which, plants may be placed.

 

Kingwood – A Brazilian wood, also called violet wood from the color of its markings, used in fine cabinetwork. Given its name because it was preferred by the kings of France in the 18th century.

 

Lacquer – Oriental varnish obtained from the sap of the lacquer tree. Gave a high-gloss finish to furniture in Europe in the 17th century. Mother-of-pearl, coral, and metals were often inlaid in the lacquer to create a decorative effect.

 

Lapis Lazuli – Its name is derived from the Roman word for stone and the Persian word for blue. Lapis was a symbol of power and was reserved only for the highest-ranking members of society.

 

Limoges porcelain – Limoges porcelain is a hard paste porcelain produced by factories near the city of LimogesFrance beginning in the late 18th century. Limoges had strong antecedents in the production of decorative objects. The city was the most famous European center of vitreous enamel production in the 12th century, and Limoges enamel was known as Opus de Limogia

 

Lyrea musical instrument of the harp class with a U-shaped frame

 

Majolica -A 19th century type of earthenware featuring very colorful glazes.

 

Mongolfière – Hot air balloon shape replicated in design.

 

Mount – An ornamental attachment typically of gilt-bronze.

 

Ormolu – from French or moulu, signifying ground or pounded gold, is a term, used since the 18th century for the gilding technique of applying finely ground, high-carat gold amalgam to an object of bronze, and for objects finished in this way. The French refer to this technique as bronze doré; in English, it is known as “gilt bronze“.

 

Os de MoutonThe best known innovation from the Louis XIII (1560-1643) period is the Os de Mouton chair. As the French name suggests, the shape of the chair legs is literally based on the legs of a lamb. The chair also marks the introduction of upholstered backs and seats with the popular flame stitch pattern and nail head trim.

 

Palmette – Fan shaped pattern a popular Neo-Classical motif.

 

Pâte sur Pâte – A type of 19th century porcelain featuring low-relief designs carved in slip and applied to a contrasting body.

 

Patina – Term used to designate a mellow sheen formed on the surface of furniture, due to wear, age, exposure, and hand-rubbing. Also a film usually greenish, formed on copper or bronze after long exposure.

 

Pietra Dura – Form of decorative work using a variety of semi precious stones and marble perfected in Italy ca1600.

 

Pouffe – small upholstered box stool.

 

Porphyr or Porphyry – Porphyry was Imperial Rome’s most prestigious stone for columns, vases, alters, busts and other objects. The word “porphyry” comes from the Latin word for purple, which was the color of nobility to the Romans. Porphyry is considered the Imperial Stone of the Roman Empire

 

Psyche or Cheval Mirror – A tall dressing mirror suspended between two pillars, usually joined by horizontal bars resting on two pairs of long feet. The cheval glass mirror was first made toward the end of the 18th century. The mirror could be tilted at any angle by means of the swivel screws supporting it.

 

RaffrachissoirA small table including brass or zinc wells for cooling bottles.

 

Reeding– Parallel convex reed moulding derived from decoration used on classical columns opposite of fluting.

 

Relief – Forms of molded, carved, or stamped decoration raised from the surface forming a pattern in high or low relief.

 

Rocaille – Rococo form of decoration using abstract shell and rockwork in its design.

 

Rock Crystal – Discovered thousands of years ago, rock crystal is renowned for its natural beauty and remarkable ability to refract light. When cut and polished, the inherent striations and inclusions of the crystal create a reflection of light far more brilliant than manmade crystal or glass. The scarcity of this crystallized quartz, however, limited its use and for thousands of years glass makers have sought to imitate its luminous qualities. During the 18th and 19th centuries, rock crystal was one of the most precious and expensive materials used in the decorative arts.

 

Scagliola -from the Italian scaglia, meaning “chips”, is a technique for producing architectural elements that resemble inlays in marble. The Scagliola technique came into fashion in 17th-century Tuscany to mimic pietra dura works created for the Medici family in Florence. Scagliola includes natural pigments, imitating marble and other hard stones. The combination of materials and technique provides a complex texture, and richness of color not available in natural veined marbles.

 

Secrétaire à Abattant – Flat fronted desk with fall front writing surface.

 

SemanierSeven drawer chest, one for each day of the week – Semaine in French means week.

 

Sèvres – The Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres is one of the principal European porcelain manufacturers. It is located in SèvresHauts-de-Seine, France.

 

Stretcher – Strengthening or stabilizing rail which runs horizontal between furniture legs, often forming X, H, or Y shapes.

 

Surtout de TableAn ornamental centerpiece displayed on a formal dining table. A long galleried tray made of precious or gilded metals, often made in sections allowing its length to be determined by the leaves added to the table.

 

Table de ChevetSmall side table.

 

Tabouret – Small stool.

 

TazzaA shallow saucer like dish mounted on a stem or pedestal.

 

Tochière – A tall stand of wood or metal with a top plateau to hold a candle.

Tole– tinware whch has been decorated by a dark varnish.

 

Trumeau:  A wall mirror originally manufactured in France in the 18th or 19th century.

In the Louis XV period it was traditionally decorated with a painted canvas that was set in the frame above the mirror. Trumeau mirrors have a painting or a carved panel above or below the mirror, and often placed to bring additional light to the room and to offer a decorative element.

 

Vaisselier:  A hutch or china cabinet with a buffet bottom with rack top used to store dishes. Comes from the French word “vaisselle” meaning dishes.  A tall, two-piece, 18th – 19th century French furniture form consisting of a set of open shelves, which sits on a buffet base. The shelves are shallow in depth and have railings that extend the width of the piece behind which plates may rest, facing outward for display.

 

Verre Églomisé – The process of applying both a design and gilding onto the rear façade of glass.

 

Vitrine – Glass front cabinet

 

Vitruvian scroll – Classical repeating pattern resembling C scrolls or waves.