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An Illustrated Glossary - page 3

This page provides an illustrated explanation of 63 art terms which are often used in this web site. A few Italian terms which are not included in the Oxford Concise Dictionary of Art Terms, are written in italics. The terms in the upper table are linked with the definitions/illustrations of the lower table. Click here for the names of the Stones of Rome.

acanthus in page 1aedicule in page 1amorino in page 1
apse in page 1architrave in page 1atlantes in page 1
balustrade in page 1bas-relief in page 4broken pediment in page 1
bucranium in page 1bugnato in page 1calotta in page 2
capital in page 2cartouche in page 2caryatid in page 2
cassettone in page 2centaur in page 2cornice in page 1
cornucopia in page 2Cosmati work in page 2Cupid in page 1
dome in page 2drum in page 2entablature in page 1
festoon in page 1frieze in page 1gisant in page 2
graffito in page 2Greek cross in this pageGreek key pattern in this page
grotesque in page 2grotto in this pageherm in this page
high relief in page 4hippocamp in this pageinlay in page 1
keystone in this pagelantern in page 2Latin crossin this page
loggia in this pagelunette in this pagemetope in page 1
nereid in this pagenymphaeum in this pageorder in page 2
paliotto in page 1parapet in this pageportico in this page
putto in page 1quadraturain this pagerelief in page 4
rose window in page 4rotundain this pagesarcophagus in page 4
satyr in page 2Serliana in page 4solomonic in page 4
sotto in su in this pagetriglyph in page 1trophy in page 4
Vitruvian opening in page 4Vitruvian scroll in page 4volute in page 4

Greek cross; Latin cross; rotunda
These terms usually refer to the shape of a church.
A Greek cross church has four arms having the same length.
A Latin cross church has the arm of the entrance longer than the other arms.
A rotunda church has a circular shape. The most famous rotunda is the Pantheon or S. Maria della Rotonda.
The image shows the plans of SS. Martina e Luca (Greek cross) and of S. Bernardo alle Terme (rotunda).
For an example of Latin cross plan see a page on the building process of S. Pietro in Vaticano.
Greek key pattern
It is one of the most ancient decorative motifs, with many symbolic meanings (the four cardinal points, the meander of life, the four seasons, etc.).
The image shows the ruins of a Byzantine building near the Maritime Walls of Constantinople. The decoration is a complex variation of the basic Greek key pattern.
Greek key pattern
grotto; nymphaeum
grotto is a picturesque (often artificial) cave designed to provide shelter from the summer heat.
nymphaeum is a complex of grottoes, fountains and statues.
Both terms derive from the supposed meeting place of the Roman king Numa Pompilio with the nymph Egeria (Ninfeo di Egeria). The villas on the sea of some Roman emperors (Nero, Tiberius, etc.) incorporated caves embellished with statues. Later on most Renaissance and Baroque villas had a nymphaeum.
The image shows the Neptun-grotte designed by G. W. von Knobelsdorff in Park Sanssouci in Potsdam, Germany.
At the beginning a herm (after the Greek god Hermes) was just a signpost or a boundary marker at crossroads. It had a head or a bust placed on a shaft tapered towards its lower part. During the Renaissance it became a frequent decoration of villas (see a herm in Villa Borghese).
The image shows a detail of the House of Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp.
hippocamp; nereid
hippocamp is a mythological animal half triton half horse usually portrayed while drawing Neptune's chariot (see Fontana di Trevi).
nereid is one of the fifty Nereids, attendants of the sea-goddess Thetis. They are often portrayed reclining on the backs of hippocampi.
The image shows a detail of Fontana delle Najadi in Rome.
keystone is the larger and heavier stone at the center of a Roman arch which by its weight ensures the solidity of the structure. It is often marked or decorated with reliefs.
The image shows a detail of Ponte di Nona, near Rome.
loggia; portico
loggia is an open-sided part of a building. S. Giovanni in Laterano has a fine example of loggia from which the pope blessed the crowds and similarly S. Marco has a loggia for the papal blessings of Paulus II who lived in nearby Palazzo Venezia. Loggias can also be found in many palaces.
portico is an open section of the ground floor of a church or a palace, designed as an introduction to the main part of the building. In early Christian churches it was called narthex and it was meant for those who could not access the church (penitents, cathecumens, etc.).
The image shows the portico and loggia of the canonry of Madonna di S. Biagio in Montepulciano.
loggia, portico
lunette is the half moon shaped section of a building between a lintel and an arch above it.
Many Renaissance churches in Central Italy have lunettes decorated with terracottas by a member of the Florentine Della Robbia family.
The image shows the lunette above the entrance of S. Cristina in Bolsena.
a parapet is a low wall at edge of balcony, roof or along sides of bridge. It can be replaced by a balustrade.
The image shows the parapet designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Ponte degli Angeli in Rome.
quadratura; sotto in su
Both terms refer to the decoration of Renaissance and chiefly Baroque ceilings.
quadratura is the framing of the ceiling by painting illusory architectures.
sotto in su (from below upwards) or scorcio is an elaborated painting technique based on perspective laws applied to a surface which is oblique to the viewer's position.
The image shows a detail of the ceiling of S. Ignazio in Rome.

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