Glossary

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Adam: Robert Adam (1728-92): eminent architect who designed furniture for the houses he built or remodelled; famous for his revival of the classical style, based on Ancient Greek and Roman taste, begun in England during the 1760’s.

Apron Piece:
An ornamental piece of shaped and carved wood hanging from the scat rail of a chair or from the lower framework of a chest of drawers, etc.

Armoire: A French term for the wardrobe; a large, upright, enclosed cupboard with shelves or hooks for hanging garments. Seen most often in a two-door style, but also designed with four doors, divided horizontally at armoire center by a pull out shelf.

Baluster Leg: A style of leg, shaped like a baluster, used on chairs and tables in the 17th century.

Barley Sugar: An alternative name for Twist-Turned legs such as those on some late 17th century tables.

Bergeres: Eighteenth century French chair form first made in the Louis XV style, circa 1725. By the late 18th century, the style spread to other European countries. Closed arms, a wide seat and concave back with a straight or cabriole leg define the bergere style.

Bombe: A French term used to describe a swelling curve: the fronts of some later-18th century commodes and chests of drawers curve from top to bottom as well as from side to side; such fronts are called bombe.

Bonnetiere: A tall, narrow cupboard with a single door used to store the elaborate bonnets favored by ladies in the Normandy and Brittany regions in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Bracket Foot: A short foot attached to the underframe of a chest of drawers, bureau, tallboy, etc. The foot may be made in two pieces joined at the outside corner; the open side may be shaped, the corner side straight or curved in Cabriole leg with Ogee form. The term is also used to describe the short one- piece, curving foot seen on later pawfoot 18th century furniture such as Hepplewhite chests of drawers and bureaux.

Buffet-Deux Corps: AA two-tiered buffet with the top cabinet being shallower in depth than the bottom. Doors on the taller, top cabinet can possess wood or glass panels.

Cabriole: The name given to chair or table legs in the style of the first half of the 18th century (Queen Anne, Early Georgian, Chippendale): the leg curves out at the knee and inwards towards the foot, tapering towards the bottom. The foot may be a club, a claw-and-ball, a paw or scroll, and there may be a carved ornament on the knee such as the scallop shell or the lion motif.

Cabochon: A carved ornament used on furniture of the mid-18th century, especially on the knees of cabriole chair legs. The name comes from that given to rounded, uncut gem stones; the furniture ornament resembles one of these, usually oval-shaped and surrounded by scrolled, leafy carving.

Capping: A square or pear-shaped piece at the top of some heavy 17th century chair and table legs.

Chinese Lattice Back: The name given to a particular Chippendale design for a chair back in the Chinese taste (‘chinoiserie’). It was supposed to resemble Chinese fretted work and is an example of the highly romanticized vogue for Far Eastern styles and objects which swept fashionable circles in the mid-18th century.

Chinoiserie: The term used to describe Chippendale-style Western interpretations of Chinese styles in Chinese lattice back furniture, porcelain, textiles, etc. These were very popular during the 17th and 18th centuries up to about 1765, and again in the early 19th century to a briefer extent. Since then there has been a recurrence roughly every fifty years.

Chippendale: Thomas Chippendale (1718-79) designer and cabinet-maker; published ‘The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director’ in 1754, reissued in 1755 and again between 1759 and 1762. He worked in London in St. Martin’s Lane at the sign of ‘The Chair’ where his son (Thomas Chippendale the Younger) carried on the business after his death.

Claw-and-Ball: This style of chair or table foot, a lion’s or an eagle’s claw clutching a ball, gained increasing popularity throughout the first half of the 18th century and has been used a lot since on reproduction pieces. It went out of favour for fashionable furniture with the classical revival of the later 18th century.

Club Foot: A very plain pad foot used with the cabriole leg on many Queen Anne chairs and tables, and in general on much 18th century furniture where the cabriole leg appear, can also be called a pad foot.

Coffer: In France, a wooden truck or chest intended for holding valuables, blankets and clothes. In use since the Middle Ages. The coffer can be covered in leather with nail heads ornamenting the edges and handles on both ends. Coffers frequently had domed or lipped tops to allow rainwater to run off.

Commode: A French chest of drawers with a wood or marble top raised on legs.

Console: Refers to a table fixed to a wall and supported by two front legs only.

Cornice: The projecting rim surrounding the top of a tallboy, bureau bookcase or any tall item of case furniture.

Cresting Rail: The top rail of a chair back.

Cupid’s Bow: The name often used to describe the curving outline of the cresting rail on Early Georgian and Chippendale chairs; an alternative to ‘serpentine’.

Demi-Lune: A smaller table shaped in half-circle. The back rests against a wall as with the console. A Flip top with pull out support opens the table top into a full circle.

Early Georgian: A term used to describe the period of furniture-making between the reign of Queen Anne and the emergence of Chippendale as a dominant influence on style. It covers the reign of George I (1714~27) and most of the reign of George II (1727-60).

Enfilade: An extra long buffet.

Escutcheon: This is a shield with a coat of-arms on it, but the word is often used for the key-plate surrounding the keyhole on a drawer or box.

French Cabriole: This is a very light, slender version of the cabriole leg, much used on 18th century furniture in the rococo taste and later used on Victorian chairs.

Gadrooning: A style of ornament used as a border or decoration on furniture and on the rims of silver bowls, plates, candlesticks, etc.

Gilding: Gold leaf or a paint containing or simulating gold

Gilt: The past tense of gilding.

Girandole: Ornamental candleholder with branching arms that radiate out from a stone, marble, bronze or metal base.

Grissaile: Monochromatic paintings in shade of gray. This technique was first used by 15th century Flemish painters to achieve a highly sculptural style. In the late 18th century, grissaile was used on walls and ceilings to imitate Classical friezes.

Hepplewhite: George Hepplewhite (died 1786); disciple of the Classical vogue inspired by Adam; designer and cabinet-maker. His ‘Cabinet-maker and Upholsterer’s Guide’ was published in 1788, resulting in posthumous fame.

Hoof Foot: A style of foot resembling a hoof, used on early cabriole-legged chairs during the reigns of William and Mary and Queen Anne. Such chairs were usually in walnut.

Inlay: A furniture ornament of bone, mother-of-pearl, different coloured woods, etc., set into the surface of a piece of furniture as decorative banding, patterns and designs. Much used on furniture of the later 18th century.

Japanning: A process of lacquering furniture in the Japanese manner, very popular in the late 17th and earlier 18th century. Bright colours and Eastern designs were used on English styles.

Ladder Back: A Chippendale chair back design of curved horizontal rails. The name is also given to a style of country chair.

Lion Mask: A very popular motif for furniture decoration during the first half of the 18th century and again during the Regency period.

Loop Handle: A curvy brass loop commonly used on mid 18th century drawers.

Lyre Splat: A classical-style chair back filling in the shape of a stringed lyre (a lyre is the Ancient Greek version of a harp), used on chairs during the later 18th century and also as the leg support on some sofa tables and occasional tables.

Marquetry: This is not inlay, but a furniture veneer made of pieces of coloured woods fitted together into a design on the surface of a piece of furniture. Marquetry decoration was fashionable during the later 17th century, waned in the early 18th century, and waxed popular again between about 1775 and 1800.

Medallion: Small round or oval medallion motifs were popular furniture ornaments during the classical-style period of the later 18th century.

Ogee: A term used to describe an S-shaped double curve, particularly those on bracket feet as used on first class mid-18th century furniture.

Ormolu: A word used for furniture mounts cast in bronze or brass and then gilded and applied as decoration. Ormolu mounts and objects d’art were all the rage in French society of the 18th century, reaching a high water mark under the Imperial regime; and the ornament continued to be made and reproduced throughout the 19th century. English ormolu was never as fine as the best French products- but there is always a demand for ‘French Style furniture, and ormolu is practically synonymous with this.

Parquetry: A decorative veneer similar to Marquetry, but the patterns formed are geometrical only (marquetry designs may be flowers, birds, leaves and so on).

Paw Foot: This is another style of foot used with the cabriole leg on chairs and tables of the mid-18th century.

Pear-Drop Handle: A small brass drop used on early chests of drawers of the late 17th and early 18th century.

Pediment: An architectural term for the triangular end on a roof; also used to describe the decorative carved pieces on the cornices of bureau bookcases, tallboys, high cabinets etc.

Peg Top Foot: A style of foot often used on late 18th century chairs and on some Victorian chairs: the leg ends in a small rounded peg, often jutting out slightly from the main line of the leg.

Quadrant: A metal pivot allowing a desk flap to move through a quarter of a circle only.

Queen Anne: A term used here to describe furniture styles of the early 18th century: Queen Anne reigned between 1702 and 1714; the styles continued until the 1720’s.

Reeding: A form of ornament resembling that used on classical columns; very popular for chair and table legs during the later 18th century. Reeding is the relief line on either side of a scooped-out channel-these channels are called ‘fluting'; they run together in close parallels, divided by the ‘reeding’.

Regency: A term used to describe that period of furniture-making between about 1800 and 1840. In fact, the Regency began in 1811 and ended in 1820 with the death of George III the Prince Regent succeeded him as George IV and was in turn succeeded by William IV in 1830.

Ring Handle: A brass circle commonly used on drawers of the later 18th century

Ribband Back: One of Chippendale’s designs for a chair back, consisting of an intricately carved back Chippendale splat of ribbon bows, knots and swirls.

Rococo: A word used to describe an elaborate, fantastic style of decoration fashionable in 18th century France, and popular in England in the mid-18th century. Motifs included flowers, leaves, shells, scrolls and florid curves, such as those on the decorative friezes of console and pier tables, mirrors, etc.

Sabre Leg: The typical leg used on furniture of the Regency period resembling the curved sword called a ‘sabre’, or scimitar.

Scallop Shell: A very popular decorative motif for furniture, silver, etc. during the first half of the 18th century; often seen on the knees of cabriole legs of the period.

Sconce: A wooden or metal bracket designed to hold candles and hang from a wall. One of the earliest light fixture forms for domestic and public uses, sconces first appeared in classical antiquity. Carved wooden sconces can be painted or gilt and metal ones are made of wrought iron or bronze that patina with age. During the Rococo period, sconces were heavily ornamented with crystals.

Scroll Foot: A foot in the shape of a carved scroll, fashionable on mid-18th century chair legs.

Settee: A seat with back and arm rests designed for two or more that came into popularity during the 17th century. Most often it is softly upholstered with fabric.

Sheraton: Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806), designer of light, delicate furniture fashionable in the late 18th century; published ‘The Cabinet-maker’s and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book’ between 1791 and 1794.

Shield Back: A later 18th century chair back in the form of a shield, enclosing a carved back splat; first used by Adam but usually associated with Hepplewhite chairs.

Spade Foot: A rectangular, tapered foot popular on late 18th century furniture legs.

Spelter: A common material made of zinc used for the production of 19th century urns and vases that were often painted to give the appearance of being bronze.

Spindled: The name given to turned uprights and stretchers carved in curving lines: some spindle shapes are narrow at each end and broader in the middle; others are slim in the middle and broader at each end.

Splat: The central, vertical piece in a chair back; it may be solid, pierced and carved in simple designs or in a specific design such as the Ribband Back, the Lyre Back, etc.

Stretcher: The horizontal pieces connecting chair or table legs; some are plain, some shaped and carved.

Tea Caddy: Tortoise shell or wooden box with a hinged lid and one or two compartments for holding tea. Tea was a valuable commodity during the 17th and 18th centuries, and, as evidence of this, many tea caddies from this period had locks.

Thimble Foot: A short tapering turned foot which vied for popularity with the SPADE FOOT-a rectangular version of the same idea-used on straight, slender late-18th century table and chair legs.

Three Ostrich Feather Motif: A decorative ornament patterned after the symbol of the Prince of Wales; used by Hepplewhite on many of his chair backs.

Tied Stretcher: An X-shaped stretcher form consisting of curvy stretcher rails running from table or chair legs to meet in the centre; a late 17th century feature.

Trumeau: Translated as “arched glass” a trumeau is a mirror set within a decorative painted panel.

Twist-Turn: A term used to describe an upright or leg turned in a spiral form, like a piece of barley-sugar.

Urn: A motif much used as decoration during the classical revival of the later 18th century and particularly associated with Adam.

Vaisselier: A tall, two-piece 18th and 19th century French furniture form consisting of two shelves which sits on a buffet base.

Victorian: A term used to describe British furniture made during the greater part of the 19th century, roughly the period covered by the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901).

Vitrine: A French display cabinet with glass set into a carved panel door and shelves on which to display porcelain and figurines.

Wheat Ear: A motif carved in the form of an car of wheat, often used on late-18th century shield-shaped chair backs.

Wheel Splat: A small wheel motif pierced in the back splats of many Windsor chairs (see illustration). Also the name given to a rare Hepplewhite chair back filling in the form of a wheel with spokes radiating out from the centre of the back.

Wine Tasting Table: A small, round or slightly oval table for use in the wine cellar. The top is hinged so that it may flip up or down, flush with the table base. With the top tilted down, the table can be easily stored along a wall.