Category Archives: DICTIONARY

Frontispiece and its Forms in Architecture

From Italian: frontone.

The term frontispiece or fronton describes a commonly triangular gable surmounting the facade of an ancient temple in classical architecture (Greece, Rome, Renaissance, Classicism), or in one that uses classical forms. As such it can also be referred to as a pediment. Yet a frontispiece can also take the shape of the middle avant-corps (projection) of a building’s facade. Its inner field, both smooth or carved, is called a tympanum. In antiquity, the tympanum was usually filled with sculptural decorations.

Segmental pediment of the Library of Celsus (Ephesus, Turkey). Photo by rob Stoeltje from loenen, netherlands – DSC00815 (2011). CC BY 2.0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Pediment” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

The triangular (pointed) frontispiece (pediment) was developed in Greek architecture as the upper part of the ancient temple facade and constituted an important element of its portico. It was limited by the side edges of the gable roof and entablature; additionally, it was framed by a profiled cornice. The triangular frontispiece was commonly used in the architecture of ancient Rome; the Romans used a combination of a building’s façade with a frontispiece together with a flat roof in larger buildings. Later, a frontispiece appeared in Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism, as the top of the facades of secular and mainly sacred architecture.

Door with a broken and open pediment, with a cartouche in it. Passage Landrieu (n°7) – Paris VII. Photo by Mbzt (2013). CC BY-SA 3.0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Pediment” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

In baroque architecture, next to the triangular frontispiece, there are also a curved (semi-oval) segmental type and a frontispiece broken in the upper part. Whereas the segmental variant takes the form of an arc of a circle, the broken type is usually interrupted by a sculptural composition or a cartouche in its center, with the side parts of its profiled cornice remaining. “Another variant of the broken type is the swan’s neck pediment […] with two ‘S’-shaped profiles resembling a swan’s neck” (“Pediment” 2021). A following feature of the Baroque style is the bending of the pediment, mainly in the part of the entablature by making its individual parts protrude in steps in front of the elevation. In turn, the so-called open frontispiece (pediment) is broken along the base and mainly adopted in Mannerist architecture.

Small frontispieces (pediments) based on columns, pilasters or corbels, crowning entrances and window openings, recesses and niches, are characteristic of modern architecture. Pediments with entablature based on columns are also found in altars and tombstones. Although “a frontispiece is the combination of elements that frame and decorate the main, or front, door to a building” (“Frontispiece (architecture)” 2021), defining the facade of the building with the term frontispiece or pediment is incorrect.

The Madeleine Church in Paris. The sculpture from the pediment (1830-1837) by Pierre-Jean David depict St Geneviève. The original uploader was Shahee at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons (2006). CC BY-SA 2.5. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Pediment” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Featured image: Illustrations with the sculptures of the two pediments of the Parthenon. James Stuart & Nicholas Revett. The Antiquities of Athens measured and delineated by James Stuart F.R.S. and F.S.A. and Nicholas Revett, Painters and Αrchitects, London, John Nichols, 1794. Public domain. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Pediment” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Frontispiece (architecture)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3awE8Yt>. [Accessed 18th February, 2021].

“Pediment” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3bgG2eT>. [Accessed 17th February, 2021].

Davidson Cragoe C. (2012). Jak czytać architekturę. Najważniejsze informacje o stylach i detalach [How to Read Architecture], Romkowska E. trans., pp. 105, 161. Warszawa: Arkady.

Koch W. (2009) Style w architekturze. Arcydzieła budownictwa europejskiego od antyku po czasy współczesne. [Baustilkunde], pp. 440, 496. Baraniewski W., Kunkel R., Omilanowska M., Sito J., Zięba A., Żak K. trans. Warszawa: Świat Książki.

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 125. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Eaves – Functional and Decorative Detail in Architecture

The lower edges of the roof slope extending beyond the side of a building and overhang the face of the wall to protect it from rainwater running off. “The eaves form an overhang to throw water clear of the walls and may be highly decorated as part of an architectural style, such as the Chinese dougong bracket systems. […] The eaves may also protect a pathway around the building from the rain, prevent erosion of the footings, and reduce splatter on the wall from rain as it hits the ground” (“Eaves” 2021).

In wooden constructions, eaves can also form a canopy (drip), a narrow, single-pitched roof, overhang at a certain height on the external walls of the building, most often between the gable and the wall (in Poland). It can also be based on the ends of the beams or logs or on special short corbels, called crosses. In taller wooden buildings, eaves protect the wall or its fragments, most often the foundation, against rainfall, and also act as an architectural division.

A single-pitched or gable roof over a gate, wicket, wall or fence is also called a drip or eaves canopy.

Featured image: The eaves canopy protects the foundation in the church of Saints Peter and Paul in Mikołów-Paniowy (Poland). Photo by EwkaC (2008). CC BY-SA 3.0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Daszek okapowy” (2020). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Daszek okapowy” (2020). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/2ZFGNsA>. [Accessed 22nd February, 2021].

“Eaves” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/37yoKsD>. [Accessed 22nd February, 2021].

“Obdaszek” (2016). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3pF93WV>. [Accessed 22nd February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, pp. 281, 285. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Doric Order in Ancient Greek and Roman Architecture

The Doric order “was one of the three orders of ancient Greek and later Roman architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian” (“Doric order” 2021). It is characterized by heavy proportions, austerity and monumentality.

Classical Greek Architecture. Example of the Doric Order: 1. Tympanum, 2. Acroterion, 3. Sima, 4. Cornice, 5. Mutule, 7. Frieze, 8. Triglyph, 9. Metope, 10. Regula, 11. Gutta, 12. Taenia, 13. Architrave, 14. Capital, 15. Abacus, 16. Echinus, 17. Column, 18. Fluting, 19. Stylobate. Drawing by Napoleon Vier (2005). CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo and caption source: “Sima (architecture)” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Doric columns do not have a base and are directly supported on a stylobate. They either have a fluted shaft: from 18 to 20 sharply cut grooves or a smooth-surfaced shaft. In any case it is tapered upwards, with a slight bulge (enthase) at 1/2 or 2/3 of its height. It has a head consisting of echinus and abacus.

Doric entablature consists of a smooth architrave, a frieze is divided into triglyphs and metopes (square spaces for either painted or sculpted decoration). Beneath each triglyph and below a flat band (taenia), separating the architrave from the frieze, there is the so-called gutta regula (gutae). “[In] the frieze, […] the two features originally unique to the Doric [are] the triglyph and guttae; [they] are skeuomorphic memories of the beams and retaining pegs of the wooden constructions that preceded stone Doric temples. [But in] stone they are purely ornamental” (“Doric order” 2021). Above the frieze, there is, in turn, a flattened plate (modillion) with looking like water drops, three rows of mutules, supporting the cornice. A cornice (geison) often ends with a gutter (sim) with spouts and antefixes, located above.

Mandatory in the Doric order is the so-called triglyph rule (a correct spacing of the triglyphs), which strictly defines the arrangement of triglyphs on the frieze. It was, however, difficult to apply in monumental structures, which eventually may have caused the abandonment of the Doric architectural order in the Hellenistic period.

The Doric order was initiated “on the Greek mainland in the late seventh century [BC.] and remained the predominant order for Greek temple construction through the early fifth century [BC.], although notable buildings built later in the Classical period—especially the canonical Parthenon in Athens—still employed it” (Khan Academy 2021).

View of the Rhodian Apollo Temple, which used to be in the Doric order. Copyright©Archaeotravel.

After Vitruvius (81-15 BC.), a Roman author and architect, “the height of Doric columns is six or seven times the diameter at the base, [which] gives the Doric columns a shorter, thicker look than Ionic columns, which have 8:1 proportions. It is suggested that these proportions give the Doric columns a masculine appearance, whereas the more slender Ionic [or Corinthian] columns appear to represent a more feminine look. This sense of masculinity and femininity was often used to determine which type of column would be used for a particular structure” (“Doric order” 2021).

Featured image: Two early Archaic Doric order Greek temples at Paestum (Italy) with much wider capitals than later. Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta – Own work (2013). CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo and caption source: “Doric order” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Sima (architecture)” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/2PSDVaC>. [Accessed on 6th May, 2021].

“Doric order” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3b7TORX>. [Accessed on 6th May, 2021].

Khan Academy (2021). “Greek architectural orders. The Doric order”. In: Khan Academy. Available at <https://bit.ly/2PXIroq>. [Accessed on 6th May, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 327. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

The Practice of Barding Horses in the History of Armouring

In history, horses were also provided with protection against enemies’ weapons. “By the [mid-fifteenth century], armorers had devised a near-complete set of armour to protect the steed in battle. Together these formed a bard”. Although it was mostly developed in the European Middle Ages, such a body armour for war horses had been already well known in antiquity. It was either made of the hardened leather cover, or of  chainmail and riveted metal plates, or larger steel plates composed of various parts.

Among the most important elements of the barding is the chanfron, designed to protect the horse’s head from the ears to the nostrils, sometimes including hinged cheek plates. “Flanges often covered the steed’s eyes. [There were also] hinged extensions to cover the [horse’s] jowls” (“Barding” 2021). Other essential elements included the criniere (crinet), a set of segmented plates protecting the horse’s neck, the peytral protecting chest, and finally the croupiere (crupper) protecting the horse’s hind quarters with a part called the tail-guard and sides around to the saddle. The legs were not covered with any armour for the horse’s easy movement.

The barding equipment equally includes the so-called “flanchards, used to protect the flank, attached to the side of the saddle, then around the front or rear of the horse and back to the saddle again. These appear to have been metal plates riveted to leather or in some cases cuir bouilli armour (which is boiled or treated leather sealed with beeswax or the like). They sometimes had openings designed to allow the rider to use spurs” (“Barding” 2021).

A set of armour with a criniere (protecting neck), peytral (protecting chest) and the croupiere (protecting hind quarters). Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. Photo by David Monniaux (2005). CC BY-SA 3.0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Barding” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

It happened that the barding was enriched with decorative features, typical of chanfrons, such as “a rondel with a small spike [between the horse’s eyes or horns an other symbolic objects surmounting the steed’s heads]. Barding was often used in conjunction with cloth covers known as caparisons. These [colourful and richly decorated textile covers sometimes shielded] the entire horse from nose to tail and extended to the ground” (“Barding” 2021).

Featured image: This fifteenth-century depiction of a tournament shows fully caparisoned horses. René d’Anjou Livre des tournois France Provence XVe siècle. Image attributed to Barthélémy d’Eyck (1460). Public domain. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Barding” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Barding” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3bcux8q>. [Accessed on 18th February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 451. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Zoomorphic Representations in Art and Architecture

“The word zoomorphism derives from the Greek […] (zōon), meaning ‘animal’, and […] (morphē), meaning ‘shape’ or ‘form’. [Zoomorphism] could describe art that imagines humans as non-human animals” In visual arts, it is generally a depiction of deities, natural phenomena, abstract concepts and other objects in the form of real or fantastic animals, or yet animal hybrids.

Featured image: Bird-shaped oil lamp, dated late twelfth-early thirteenth century, made of bronze; cast, engraved, inlaid with silver and copper, H: 8 in. L: 9 3/8 in. W: 11 13/16 in: “Bird-shaped oil lamp”. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 2019-11-03. This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the Image and Data Resources Open Access Policy. CC0. Photo and caption source: “Zoomorphism” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Zoomorphism” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3roWFMn>. [Accessed on 6th March, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 455. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Yamato-e in the National School of Japanese Paintings

The national school of painting in Japan that was founded in Yamato (the former name of Japan and the district with the capital of Nara). It is characterized by using purely Japanese themes drawn from national poetry and novels, with or without accompanying text, completely devoid of the influence of Chinese culture. The paintings “show the beauty of nature, with famous places meisho-e (…) or the four seasons shiki-e (…). Characteristic features of Yamato-e include many small figures and careful depictions of details of buildings and other objects, the selection of only some elements of a scene to be fully depicted, the rest either being ignored or covered by a ‘floating cloud’, an oblique view from above showing interiors of buildings as though through a cutaway roof, and very stylized depiction of landscape” (“Yamato-e” 2020).

Uji Bridge Screen, an example of later Yamato-e from the seventeenth century. Image by Japanischer Maler – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202. Public domain. Photo and caption source: Photo and caption source: “Yamato-e” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

The pictures are often on scrolls that can be hung on a wall (…), handscrolls (…) that are read from right to left, or on a folding screen (…) or panel” (“Yamato-e” 2020). Inspired by Tang dynasty paintings, it developed during the Heian period (794-1185). Yamato-e paintings, however, “stand for a style and are not restricted to a particular period” (Ibid.)

Featured image: A scene (AZUMA YA: East Wing) of Illustrated scroll of Tale of Genji (written by MURASAKI SHIKIBU (the eleventh century). The multi-panel curtain at the center bottom of the image is a kichō. The decorated sliding door panels at the top of the image are fusuma. The scroll was made in about ca. 1130 ACE and is in the Tokugawa Museum in Nagoya, Japan. Image by Imperial court in Kyoto – Genji Monogatari Emaki published by the Tokugawa Museum in Nagoya, Japan, 1937. Public domain. Colours intensified. Photo and caption source: “Yamato-e” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Yamato-e” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/30ln81D>. [Accessed on 6th March, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 446. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Xylography in Asian Wood Engravings and Medieval Block Books

The definition of xylography means the oldest known form of woodcut and engraving in wood, invented in China in the first century AD. Although it originated in China, “the practice of woodcut has spread across the world from Europe to other parts of Asia, and to Latin America. [In woodcut technique], the block is cut along the wood grain, [whereas in the case of wood engraving], the block is cut in the [end-grain].” (“Woodcut” 2021).

A single-sheet of woodcut of the famous Four Horsemen c. 1496–1498 by Albrecht Dürer, depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Albrecht Dürer – National Gallery of Art. Public domain. Photo and caption source: “Woodcut” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

The technique of “[woodcut] is a relief printing […] in printmaking. An artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood—typically with gouges—leaving the printing parts level with the surface while removing the non-printing parts. Areas that the artist cuts away carry no ink, while characters or images at surface level carry the ink to produce the print. […] The surface is covered with ink, [also in multiple colours], by rolling over the surface with an ink-covered roller (brayer), leaving ink upon the flat surface but not in the non-printing areas” (“Woodcut” 2021).

The art of carving the woodcut is generally referred to as xylography. Although the latter term is rarely used in Europe for woodcut single images, it is mostly related to the so-called block books, “which are small books containing text and images in the same block” (“Woodcut” 2021). Such block books are also called xylographica; they were uniquely printed in Europe and became popular in the second half of the fifteenth century. They are short books of up to fifty leaves and of nearly always religious content. At the same time, a single-sheet of woodcut is rather called simply a woodcut, which is presented as a single image or print, as opposed to a book illustration included in  xylographica.

Featured image: Fragment of the woodcut page from the Apocalypse. It is a block book printed in Europe between 1450 & 1500. The image come from a late fifteenth century compilation blockbook [Cod Pal. Germ 34] of which the ‘Apokalypse’ (4th ed.) forms one section. The printed text is in Latin but handwritten German translation sheets were inserted between the blockbook pages. The book is hosted by the University of Heidelberg. Public domain. Image modified. Photo and caption source: “Block book” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Bernard T. (2013). “Xylography. Art Terms — X”Trylit”. In: Teresa Bernard Oil Paintings. Available at <https://bit.ly/3fvYwvq>. [Accessed 27th May, 2021].

“Woodcut” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/34rVLoq>. [Accessed 27th May, 2021].

“Block book” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3i1FAX3>. [Accessed 29th May, 2021].

Wimperg – a Gable (Canopy) in the Gothic Architecture

From German: Wimperg.

In the Gothic architecture, a decorative high triangular gable, placed over a portal or window. The field of the Gothic gable was decorated with a blind or openwork tracery, the edges were provided with crockets, crowned with finials, pinnacles, and, more rarely, with figurative sculpture. Gothic gables appeared mostly in the medieval sacred architecture of the thirteenth century, and they had the most decorative forms in the fifteenth century. They emphasize the upward movement of the Gothic style. A Gothic gable were also a frequent decorative motif in late Gothic woodcarving and goldsmithing.

Featured image: The cathedral in Amiens showing three portals with wimperg decorated with pinnacles and crockets. Photo by Thuresson (2006). CC BY-SA 2.0. Image cropped. Photo source: “Gable” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Gable” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3sMsFdE>. [Accessed 5th March, 2021].

Koch W. (2009) Style w architekturze. Arcydzieła budownictwa europejskiego od antyku po czasy współczesne. [Baustilkunde], pp. 491, 497. Baraniewski W., Kunkel R., Omilanowska M., Sito J., Zięba A., Żak K. trans. Warszawa: Świat Książki.

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 440. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

‘Vaisselier’ – a Piece of the Refined Furnishing

From the French word: vaisselle [dishes].

Usually a not too deep shelf, of various heights and widths, used to store dishes for everyday use, and more often to display decorative dishes in cabinets (also corner ones). As such, a vaisselier can serve as a display glass cabinet consisting, in its upper part, of shelves on which tableware is displayed. It has been used in France since the fifteenth century. Of a very similar function was a China cabinet, used to display mostly Chinese porcelain dinnerware.

Featured Image: Vaisseliers d’angle (corner cabinets) in the dining room of the Queen’s Small Apartment, Palace of Versailles, France. Photo by Myrabella (2011). CC BY-SA 3.0. Colours intensified.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Vaisselier” (2016). In: Wikipédia, l’encyclopédie libre. Available at <https://bit.ly/3b8NPgk>. [Accessed on 5th March, 2021].

“China cabinet” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/38du6Ks>. [Accessed on 5th March, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 428. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Ushabtis’ Function in Ancient Egypt

Small figurines of clay, stone, wood, bronze or earthenware in the shape of mummies, often holding agricultural implements. They were placed in the graves in ancient Egypt, with the beginning of the Middle Kingdom (circa 2055-1795 BC.). They were to replace the deceased, who were called to work in the Afterlife. The ushabti were animated in a magical way, by the religious texts from the Sixth Chapter of the Book of the Dead, which covered the surface of the figurines (see: The Spell of Ushabtis: ‘Verily, I Am Here’).

Featured image: Memphis, 500 BC – Troop of funerary servant figures ushabtis in the name of Neferibreheb, Louvre-Lens. Photo by Serge Ottaviani (2013). CC BY-SA 3.0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Ushabti“ (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Ushabti“ (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <http://bit.ly/3bt54Js>. [Accessed on 23rd February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 427. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.