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Arca - art glossary
Category: Travel and Transportation > Glossary of art terms
Date & country: 04/09/2008, IT
Words: 148


Opus tassellatum
Type of floor made entirely from small square-shaped pieces of marble and stone, usually of different colours.

Oratory
Chapel or other building belonging to a church or monastery, used either for private worship or associations of brethern.

Order
Architectural style defined by the type of column and entablature. The column is divided into three main elements: the base, shaft and capital. The entablature consists of architrave, frieze and cornice. Three classical Greek orders developed (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian) and two Roman orders (Tuscan and Composite).

Ovulo
A convex moulding in the shape of a quarter circle which forms a horizontal band: usually a decorative member in a Corinthian or Doric cornice.

Panel
Decorative element of various shapes and material (marble, stone, bronze, wood) which has been sculpted, carved or painted with figures or scenes and used on doors, walls or cornices.

Perspective
Technique of representing three-dimensional space on a flat or relief surface giving a sense of depth. Linear perspective foreshortens objects as they recede into the distance with lines converging to a vanishing point. Aerial perspective is based on contrasts of colour and shade, which are stronger in the foreground and fainter in the distance.

Pilaster-strip
Flat column, slightly projecting from a wall. Has a purely decorative function.

Pillar
Vertical structural member which bears a load - arches, architraves or vaults. It may be square, oblong or polygonal in shape. Romanesque pillars are usually cruciform with a column on each of the four sides; Gothic pillars generally consist of a 'cluster' of columns.

Pinnacle
Element which crowns a fa├žade, dome etc. Often used in Gothic architecture sometimes as a purely decorative feature on doorways.

Plan
Horizontal layout of a building. Churches often have the form of a cross with two sections at right angles to each other. If the sections are of the same length and cross at the centre, they form a Greek cross; if one section is shorter than the other, intersecting it at about a third of its length, they form a Latin cross. If the shorter arm crosses the end of the longer section, the form is know...

Pointed arch
* Arch.

Polychrome
Item made with, or decorated in several colours.

Polyptych
Painting or panel in more than three sections which are hinged together. Three paintings or panels are known as a tryptych. These paintings often formed altar panels.

Presbytery
Area of a church around the main altar. Reserved for the clergy, it is separated from the central nave by a balustrade.

Projection
Architectural element projecting from the wall of a building (frieze, balcony, bracket, butress etc.).

Pulpit
Elevated platform or reading desk in a church (occasionally also located externally) from which a sermon is preached.

Reliquary
Urn or container for the relics of a saint or martyr.

Ribbed vault
A form of cross vaulting in which the weight of the segments is evenly distributed over raised stone ribs.

Rock crystal
A kind of quartz of transparant and neutral appearance, used before glass was developed to make household articles and ornaments.

Roman empire
The name derives from Byzantium, another name for Constantinople, the eastern capital. The style continued for over one thousand years, surviving until the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. The earliest works of art date from the 6th century when Byzantine art developed its own particular style (I Golden Age). Following a lengthy period of decline caused by the spread of iconoclasm whic...

Romanesque
A style of the figurative arts - especially sculpture - and of architecture which flourished throughout western Europe from the end of the 10th century until the middle of the 12th century (in Italy until the early decades of the 13th century). Typical features of the Romanesque style are: simple pillars often alternating with composite pillars; cross or barrel vault ceilings; external pilaster st...

Rosette
A circular design or ornament which resembles a formalized rose; may be painted, sculpted or moulded.

Rotunda
A round building often covered with a dome. A large round room or hall, generally in the centre of a building.

Round arch
* Arch.

Rustication
A method of treating masonry. Large, rectangular blocks of stone project from the wall with deeply emphasized joints. Lightly hewn blocks are known as 'boasted' or 'droved' ashlars.

Sacristy
Room attached to a church for the storage of sacred vessels and vestments. Usually also a robing room for the clergy.

Sarcophagus
Coffin in stone, marble or other material. Roman sarcophagi were decorated with bas-relief sculptures on the sides, while Etruscan sarcophagi generally had a statue of the deceased, in a reclining position as though at a banquet, on top.

Segmental arch
* Arch.

Seraph
Angel belonging to the highest order in the celestial heirarchy, the seraphim. Often depicted surrounding the figure of God in adoration.

Serliana
A triple opening. The central part is arched, while the two lateral sections have a straight upper frame. The term is derived from the name of an architect from Bologna, Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1555), who proposed the design in his manual of architecture, but it was already known in Roman times.

Spandrel
Triangular surface between the vault of a dome and the supporting elements. Also the triangular surface, with curved sides, between two adjacent arches and the horizontal moulding above.

Stained glass
Coloured or stained glass used especially in church windows to form figures or decorations. The colour is derived from metalllic oxide added during manufacture. Small pieces of the coloured glass are set into a framework to compose the design or image.

Street bench
Stone seat built into the base of the external wall of some palaces and residences.

Tabernacle
Niche or aedicule in the shape of a small temple containing a sacred image. Also used for the ciborium, receptacle in the centre of the altar for the Sacrament.

Tapestry
Large tapestries usually portraying historical events, legends and figures. They were edged with decorative borders woven in wool, silk, gold and silver thread. The Italian word arazzo is derived from the name of the French city, Arras, once one of the most important centres for cloth production.

Telamon
* Atlas.

Terracotta, glazed
Pottery or china decorated with a vitreous finish obtained by combining silica (found in clay) and lead oxide. The pottery thus becomes impermeable and lustrous.

Tower-house
A tall, fortified house which was quite common from the 11th to the 13th century. It provided protection and defense for the head of important families and his supporters against enemies.

Transept
Transverse nave in a cruciform church, crossing the main nave at the level of the presbytery.

Trefoil
Three-lobed opening or arch.

Tribune
Area consisting of the presbytery and apse of a church. In a Roman basilica the tribune was the semi-circular area where the judges sat; in early Christian churches it indicated the seats behind the main altar where the bishop and clergy sat.

Triptych
* Polyptych.

Truss
A triangular load-bearing structure used to support the roofs of churches and other buildings. The beams are usually made of wood, though they may also be steel or concrete.

Tympanum
Vertical triangular space, plain or with relief decoration, between the slopes of a roof and the horizontal cornice of a temple or other building with a pediment.

Urn
The ashes of the deceased are kept in a funerary urn after cremation. Also a container for relics of a saint.

Vault
Arched roof of a building or part of a building. Various forms exist: 1) barrel vault - an extreme development of the Roman arch (weight was carried equally by both walls); 2) cross vault where two barrel vaults cross and are divided into four segments with weight-bearing ribs each supported by a pilaster. Where the ribs meet at the apex is a keystone; 3) fan vaulting - rising from a polygonal str...

Via Crucis
The fourteen Stations of the Cross representing the most important events in the passion and death of Christ.

Wunderkammer
During the Renaissance wealthy and learned men collected works of art, natural phenomena and scientific and tecnical objects in a study or series of rooms. The collection was not governed by any strict criteria and was intended to reflect the owner's encyclopedic knowledge. Examples exist in the 'studiolo' of Francesco de' Medici and the Wunderkammern of various aristocrats in central and nort...