(1) The section of a pedestal between base and surbase. (2) The lower portion of the wall of a room, decorated diffrently from the upper section.

danse macabre

The dance of death, a favorite late medieval picture subject. It generally shows skeletons forcing the living to dance with them, usually in matching pairs, e.g. a live priest dancing with a skeleton priest. Holbein's woodcut series the Dance of Death is one of the most famous.

Danube school

Refers to a style of painting that developed in Regensburg, Germany, and elsewhere along the Danube river during the Renaissance and Reformation. It is characterized by a renewed interest in medieval piety, an expressive use of nature, the relationship of the human figure and events to nature, and the introduction of landscape as a primary theme in art. The term was coined by Theodor von Frimmel (1853-1928), who believed that painting in the Danube River region around Regensburg, Passau, and Linz possessed common characteristics; the style seems to exist even though leading artists did not form a school in the usual sense of the term, since they did not work in a single workshop or in a particular centre. Major artists whose work represents the style include Lucas Cranach the Elder, Albrecht Altdorfer and Wolf Huber.

deacon (Gk. diakonos, "servant")

a minister who was below the rank of priest in the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches. Deacons originally cared for both the sick and the poor in early Christian communities.

Decorated style

the second major style of Gothic architecture in England, c. 1240-1330, coming after Early Gothic. It is noted in particular for the development of ornate tracery and the use of ogee arches. It was followed by the Perpendicular.

Deësis (Gk. "request")

the representation of Christ enthroned in glory as judge or ruler of the world, flanked by the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist acting as intercessors.

diptych (Lat. diptychum, Gk. diptychos, "folded in two")

in medieval art a picture, often an altarpiece, consisting of two folding wings without a fixed central area.

disegno (It. "drawing, design")

In Renaissance art theory, the design of a painting seen in terms of drawing, which was help to be the basis of all art. The term stresses not the literal drawing, but the concept behind an art work. With the Mannerists the term came to mean an ideal image that a work attempts to embody but can in fact never fully realize. As disegno appeals to the intellect, it was considered far more important that coloure (colour), which was seen as appealing to the senses and emotions.

dissolution of the monasteries

appropriation of the property and possessions of English and Welsh monasteries 1536-1540 by Henry VIII. It was meant both to weaken the power of the Church and to replenish the treasury; much of the property went to the aristocracy and gentry.

distemper (Lat. distemperare, "to mix, dilute")

A technique of painting in which pigments are diluted with water and bound with a glue. It was usually used for painting wall decorations and frescoes, though a few artists, notably Andrea Mantegna (1430/31-1506), also used it on canvas.


See Pointillism


in architecture, hemispherical structure evolved from the arch, usually forming a ceiling or roof.

Dominicans (Lat. Ordo Praedictatorum, Order of Preachers)

A Roman Catholic order of mendicant friars founded by St. Dominic in 1216 to spread the faith through preaching and teaching. The Dominicans were one of the most influential religious orders in the later Middle Ages, their intellectual authority being established by such figures as Albertus Magnus and St.Thomas Aquinas. The Dominicans played the leading role in the Inquisition.


central tall, strong tower in French castles which, unlike the keep, was designed for permanent habitation.

donor (Lat. donator, "giver of a gift")

a patron who commissioned a work of art for a church. Donors sometimes had their portraits included in the work they were donating as a sign of piety.


the room where monks slept in monasteries, and later, when individual cells were introduced, the term was applied to the building or floor which contained the cells.


Dossals, sometimes called 'retables', are plain panels set above and at the back of the altar table in a church. They were first painted in the second half of the 13th century, and evolved from antependia which were coverings, normally of highly decorated fabric, used to decorate the front of an altar. They generally consist of a long horizontal panel. Higher and more complex structures developed later.


A male garment, formerly worn under armour, that from the 15th century referred to a close-fitting jacket.


the cylindrical or polygonal base of a dome.

dwarf gallery

a low exterior passage lit by an equally low arcade, just below the roof of a building and usually in the apse of a church.


Early English

the first major style of Gothic architecture in England.


A ceramic product invented in England around 1720, which belongs to the category of fine stoneware. The porous white bodies are made of fired raw materials containing clay and kaolin as well as quartz, feldspar, and talc. A transparent glaze is applied upon the first or second firing. Earthenware, which is suitable for everyday use, is distinguished by its light, creamy surface. The most famous example of this category is made by the English firm of Wedgwood (since 1780).


Stand on which a painting is supported while the artist works on it. The oldest representation of an easel is on an Egyptian relief of the Old Kingdom (c. 2600-2150 BC). Renaissance illustrations of the artist at work show all kinds of contrivances, the commonest being the three-legged easel with pegs, such as we still use today. Light folding easels were not made until the 18th and 19th centuries, when painters took to working out of doors. The studio easel, a 19th-century invention, is a heavy piece of furniture, which runs on castors or wheels, and served to impress the c1ients of portrait painters. Oil painters need an easel which will support the canvas almost vertically or tip it slightly forward to prevent reflection from the wet paint, whereas the watercolourist must be able to lay his paper nearly flat so that the wet paint will not run down. The term 'easel-painting' is applied to any picture small enough to have been painted on a standard easel.

Ecce Homo (Lat. "Behold the Man!")

The words of Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of St. John (19, 5) when he presents Jesus to the crowds. Hence, in art, a depiction of Jesus, bound and flogged, wearing a crown of thorns and a scarlet robe.


A nineteenth and twentieth-century architectural style in which a single piece of work incorporates a mixture of elements from previous historical styles to create something that is new and original.


one of the German princes who elected the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. From the middle of the 14th century there were seven Electors; the king of Bohemia, the duke of Saxony, the count Palatine of the Rhine, the margrave of Brandenburg, and the archbishops of Mainz, Trier and Cologne.

Elizabethan style

Elizabethan refers to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I from 1558 to 1603 which saw a flowering of the arts in Britain. Although the plays of Shakespeare are perhaps the best known example of Elizabethan artistic production, painting - principally in the form of portraiture - also flourished during this period. Elaborate textiles as well as embroidery were also prevalent in the decorative arts while sculpture found a place in architectural decoration and tombs.

The Queen herself took a keen interest in her portraits, guiding artists such as Nicholas Hilliard and Marcus Gheeraerts II in the creation of stylised images of immense elegance, wealth and power. This artificial and decorative style became characteristic of Elizabethan painting in general.

Empire style

Major phase of Neoclassical art that flourished in France during the time of the First Empire (1804-14). The Empire style was encouraged by Napoleon's desire for a style inspired by the grandeur of ancient Egypt and imperial Rome. In architecture it was exemplified by such Parisian buildings and monuments as the Church of the Madeleine by Pierre-Alexandre Vignon, Jean Chalgrin's Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, and Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine's Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and Vendôme Column; in painting, by Jacques-Louis David's Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine and Baron Antoine Gros's battle scenes; and in sculpture, by Antonio Canova's heroic statues of Napoleon and his family.

en face

In portraiture, a pose in which the sitter faces the viewer directly; full face.


Coloured glass in powder form and sometimes bound with oil, which is bonded to a metal surface or plaque by firing.

engaged column

a column embedde in a wall, not free-standing.


A print made from a metal plate that has had a design cut into it with a sharp point. Ink is smeared over the plate and then wiped off, the ink remaining in the etched lines being transferred when the plate is pressed very firmly onto a sheet of paper.

ensemble (Fr. "together")

A combining of several media grouped together to form a composite art work. Chapels were among the most notable Renaissance ensembles, sometimes combining panel painting, fresco, sculpture, and architecture.


In classical architecture, the part of a building between the capitals of the columns and the roof. It consists of the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice.

epitaph (Gk. epistaphion)

Pictures or tables with reliefs and inscriptions erected in honour of the deceased in churches or sepulchral chapels.

eschatology (Gk. eschaton, "last", and logos, "word")

the science of the end of the world and beginning of a new world, and of the last things,death and resurrection.

Eucharist (Gk. eu, "good," and charis, "thanks")

the sacrament of Holy Communion, celebrated with bread and wine, the most sacred moment of the Christian liturgy.

Evangeliary, or gospel book

a liturgical book (hand-written in the Middle Ages, printed later) containing the complete text of the Gospels. Evangeliaries are among the most impressive examples of medieval book illumination.


The term is used in an Italian context to designate spiritual currents manifest around 1540 which might be said to have occupied the confessional middle ground between Catholicism and Protestantism; hence it does not relate at all to the term 'Evangelical' as used in German or English contexts. It has been applied particularly to the so-called spirituali of the Viterbo circle, notably Cardinal Pole, Vittoria Colonna, Marcantonio Flaminio, Carnesecchi and Ochino, and also to Giulia Gonzaga, Contarini, Giovanni Morone; Gregorio Cortese and Vermigli. Such persons combined a zeal for personal religious renewal with spiritual anxieties akin to those of Luther, to which they sought an answer in the study of St Paul and St Augustine; convinced of the inefficacy of human works, they stressed the role of faith and the all-efficacy of divine grace in justification. Few of them broke with the Catholic Church.


Expressionism is an artistic style in which the artist seeks to depict not objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse within a person. The artist accomplishes this aim through distortion, exaggeration, primitivism, and fantasy and through the vivid, jarring, violent, or dynamic application of formal elements. In a broader sense Expressionism is one of the main currents of art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and its qualities of highly subjective, personal, spontaneous self-expression are typical of a wide range of modern artists and art movements.

More specifically, Expressionism as a distinct style or movement refers who became active in the years before World War I and remained so throughout much of the interwar period. Although the term Expressionist can be applied to artworks from any era, it is generally applied to art of the twentieth century. It may be said to start with Vincent van Gogh and then form a major stream of modern art embracing, among many others, Edvard Munch, fauvism and Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, the Brücke and Blaue Reiter groups, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Paul Klee, Max Beckmann, most of Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, Francis Bacon, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer and the neo-expressionism of the 1980s.



the front or principal face of a building, especially one elaborately constructed; a blind façade is a façade that is purely decorative and does not relate to the structure of the building.


Tin-glazed European earthenware, particularly ware made in France, Germany, Spain, and Scandinavia. It developed in France in the early 16th century, was influenced by the technique and the designs of Italian maiolica, and is named for Faenza, Italy, which was famous for maiolica. It is distinguished from tin-glazed earthenware made in Italy, which is called "maiolica," and that made in the Netherlands and England, which is called "delftware." It has no connection to the ancient objects or material also named faience, which was developed in the Near East ca. 4500 BCE.

fan vault

an English form of vault in which ribs spread out from their corbels to form a fan-like design. The ribs are decorative rather than structural, each fan being a solid semi-cone with concave sides.

Fathers of the Church

A title given to those leaders of the early Christian Church whose writings had made an important contribution to the development of doctrine. Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great were often considered the four principal Fathers of the Church.


Ancient Roman god of nature, protector of shepherds, farmers, fields and livestock. Equated with the Greek god Pan, he is frequently depicted with a goats legs and horns.

festoni (It. "festoons)

Architectural ornaments consisting of fruit, leaves, and flowers suspended in a loop; a swag.

fête champêtre (French: "rural feast")

In painting, representation of a rural feast or open-air entertainment. Although the term fête galante ("gallant feast") is sometimes used synonymously with fête champêtre, it is also used to refer to a specific kind of fête champêtre: a more graceful, usually aristocratic scene in which groups of idly amorous, relaxed, well-dressed figures are depicted in a pastoral setting.

figura serpentinata (Italian: "serpentine figure")

It is used to describe a human figure which spirals around a central axis, so that the lower limbs face in one direction and the torso almost in the opposite direction, in a graceful if sometimes contorted pose. The development of this pose is attributed to Michelangelo in his statue of 'Victory'.


religious brotherhoods of men and women who whipped themselves, usually in public processions, as a spiritual discipline or as penance for their own sins or the sins of the world.


style flamboyant (French), the last major style of French Gothic architecture, so called because of its highly elaborate "flame-like" tracery. It followed the Rayonnant.


of a column or pillar, carved with closely spaced parallel grooves cut vertically.

flying buttress

an arched buttress that carries the thrust of a wall to a vertical buttress; usually it carries the thrust of the nave vault across the aisle roof to the outer buttress.


in tracery, a lobe or leaf-shape formed by cusps; a trefoil is composed of three foils, a quatrefoil of four foils.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

the Four Horsemen in the Revelation of St John (Rev 6, 2 - 8), which contains the description of the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ. The Horsemen personify the disasters about to happen to mankind, such as plague, war, famine and death. Their attributes are the bow, sword and set of balances. In some sculptures the first rider is identified as Christ by a halo. The colour of his horse is white, that of the others red, black and dun.


A Roman Catholic order of mendicant friars founded by St. Francis of Assisi (given papal approval in 1223). Committed to charitable and missionary work, they stressed the veneration of the Holy Virgin, a fact that was highly significant in the development of images of the Madonna in Italian art. In time the absolute poverty of the early Franciscans gave way to a far more relaxed view of property and wealth, and the Franciscans became some of the most important patrons of art in the early Renaissance.

Frankenthal School

A group of 16th-century landscape artists, mainly of forest scenes, who lived in Frankenthal in the Palatinate. In 1562 the Elector Palatine, Friedrich III, established the village as a place of the group. The group of emigré Flemish landscape painters is now known as the Frankenthal School. Among its most important exponents are Pieter Schoubroeck (c. 1570--1607) and Anton Mirou (c. 1570-after 1661). Gillis van Coninxloo (1544-1607) had a decisive influence on the group during his stay in Farankenthal.

fresco (It. "fresh")

Wall painting technique in which pigments are applied to wet (fresh) plaster (intonaco). The pigments bind with the drying plaster to form a very durable image. Only a small area can be painted in a day, and these areas, drying to a slightly different tint, can in time be seen. Small amounts of retouching and detail work could be carried out on the dry plaster, a technique known as a secco fresco.

frescos in Italy

Save in Venice, where the atmosphere was too damp, fresco painting was the habitual way of decorating wall surfaces in Italy, both in churches and in private and public palaces. During the 16th century a liking for the more brilliant effect of large canvases painted in oils, and to a lesser extent for tapestries, diminished the use of frescoes save for covering upper walls, covings and ceilings. The technique of buon fresco, or true fresco, involved covering the area with a medium-fine plaster, the intonaco, just rough enough to provide a bond (sometimes enhanced by scoring) for the final layer of fine plaster. Either a freehand sketch of the whole composition (sinopia) was drawn on the wall, or a full-scale cartoon was prepared and its outlines transferred to the intonaco by pressing them through with a knife or by pouncing - blowing charcoal dust through prickholes in the paper. Then over the intonaco enough of the final thin layer was applied to contain a day's work. That portion of the design was repeated on it either by the same methods or freehand, and the artist set to work with water-based pigments while the plaster was still damp; this allowed them to sink in before becoming dry and fixed. (Thus 'pulls' or slices of frescoes could be taken by later art thieves without actually destroying the colour or drawing of the work.) It is usually possible to estimate the time taken to produce a fresco by examining the joins between the plastered areas representing a day's work. Final details, or effects impossible to obtain in true fresco pigments, could be added at the end in 'dry' paints, or fresco secco, a technique in which pigment was laid on an unabsorbent plaster; the best known example of an entire composition in fresco secco is Leonardo's Last Supper.


a horizontal band of architectural decoration; in a classical entablature, the horizontal member band between the architrave and the cornice.



the end wall of a pitched roof or similar architectural form, usually triangular but sometimes stepped or arched. A gable may be used purely decoratively, as, for example, over the portal of a Gothic cathedral, where it often contains sculptural decoration.


a chapel or porch at the west end of some churches where penitents waited before admission to the body of the church and where clergy received women who had business with them.


an upper story, similar to a tribune, running along the side of a building and open on one side to the interior; in a church (basilica) above the side aisles, over the ambulatory (central-plan building) and also over the west end. The gallery was used to keep certain groups of worshippers apart (women, noblemen).

Garter, Order of the

The highest order the English monarch can bestow. It was founded by Edward III in 1348. The blue Garter ribbon is worn under the left knee by men and on the upper left arm by women. The motto is Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil to those who think evil).


in classical Rome, a person's invisible tutelary god. In art from the classical period onwards, the low-ranking god was depicted as a winged, usually childish figure.


In a broad sense, the term is used to mean a particular branch or category of art; landscape and portraiture, for example, are genres of painting, and the essay and the short story are genres of literature.

genre painting

The depiction of scenes from everyday life. Elements of everyday life had long had a role in religious works; pictures in which such elements were the subject of a painting developed in the 16th century with such artists as Pieter Bruegel. Then Carracci and Caravaggio developed genre painting in Italy, but it was in Holland in the 17th century that it became an independent form with its own major achievements, Vermeer being one of its finest exponents.


The German term Gesamtkunstwerk ("total work of art") describes an artwork, design, or creative process where different art forms are combined to create a single cohesive whole. The concept was originally associated with Richard Wagner and his music dramas. Remaining most popular in Germany and Austria, it was developed throughout the 19th and early 20th century by a range of European art movements and became a core tenet of modern art. Although it fell out of favour in the post-modern period, the term is still sometimes used today to describe multimedia artworks and installations.


A term applied to the 14th-century followers of Giotto. The best-known of the 'Giotteschi' are the Florentines Taddeo Gaddi, Maso di Banco, Bernardo Daddi, and to a lesser extent the Master of St Cecilia. Giotto's most loyal follower was Maso, who concentrated on the essential and maintained the master's high seriousness.


French term used from the 15th century onwards for a lying or recumbent effigy on a funerary monument. The gisant typically represented a person in death (sometimes decomposition) and the gisant position was contrasted with the orant, which represented the person as if alive in a kneeling or praying position. In Renaissance monuments gisants often formed part of the lower register, where the deceased person was represented as a corpse, while on the upper part he was represented orant as if alive.

Glasgow School

Glasgow School usually refers to the circle of artists and designers working around Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow from the mid 1890s to about 1910. Most notable in the group were the Macdonald sisters and Herbert MacNair, and with Charles Rennie Mackintosh they were known as The Four. They made a distinctive and highly influential contribution to international art nouveau and are sometimes referred to as the Spook School.


paint applied so thinly that the base beneath it is visible through the layer.


(1) The supernatural radiance surrounding a holy person.

(2) To have the distinction of one's deeds recognized in life and to be revered for them posthumously: this was glory. The nature of true gloria was much discussed, whether it must be connected with the public good, whether the actions that led to it must conform with Christian ethics, how it differed from notoriety. The concept did not exclude religious figures (the title of the church of the Frari in Venice was S. Maria Gloriosa), but it was overwhelmingly seen in terms of secular success and subsequent recognition, as determining the lifestyles of the potent and the form of their commemoration in literature, in portraits and on tombs. As such, it has been taken as a denial of medieval religiosity ('sic transit gloria mundi'), and thus a hallmark of Renaissance individual ism; as a formidable influence on cultural patronage; and as spurring on men of action, as well as writers and artists, to surpass their rivals - including their counterparts in antiquity.


French tapestry manufactory, named after a family of dyers and clothmakers who set up business on the outskirts of Paris in the 15th century. Their premises became a tapestry factory in the early 17th century, and in 1662 it was taken over by Louis XIV, who appointed Lebrun Director. Initially it made not only tapestries but also every kind of product (except carpets, which were woven at the Savonnerie factory) required for the furnishing of the royal palaces — its official title was Manufacture royale des meubles de la Couronne. The celebrated tapestry designed by Lebrun showing Louis XIV Visiting the Gobelins (Gobelins Museum, Paris, 1663-75) gives a good idea of the range of its activities. In 1694 the factory was closed because of the king's financial difficulties, and although it reopened in 1699, thereafter it made only tapestries. For much of the 18th century it retained its position as the foremost tapestry manufactory in Europe. 0udry and Boucher successively held the post of Director (1733-70). The Gobelins continues in production today and houses a tapestry museum.

Golden Fleece, Order of the Golden Fleece

a noble chivalric order, still in existence today, founded by Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy in 1430 in honor of the Apostle Andrew, for the defence of the Christian faith and the Church. In allusion to the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, the symbol of the order is a golden ram's fleece drawn through a gold ring.

golden section (Lat. sectio aurea)

In painting and architecture, a formula meant to provide the aesthetically most satisfying proportions for a picture or a feature of a building. The golden section is arrived at by dividing a line unevenly so that the shorter length is to the larger as the larger is to the whole. This ratio is approximately 8:13. The golden section (sometimes known as the golden mean), which was thought to express a perfect harmony of proportions, played an important role in Renaissance theories of art.


Italian gonfaloniere ("standard bearer"), a title of high civic magistrates in the medieval Italian city-states.

In Florence the gonfaloniers of the companies (gonfalonieri di compagnia) originated during the 1250s as commanders of the people's militia. In the 1280s a new office called the gonfalonier of justice (gonfaloniere di giustizia) was instituted to protect the interests of the people against the dominant magnate class. The holder of this office subsequently became the most prominent member of the Signoria (supreme executive council of Florence) and formal head of the civil administration. In other Italian cities, the role of the gonfaloniers was similar to that in Florence. Gonfaloniers headed the militia from the various city quarters, while the gonfalonier of justice often was the chief of the council of guild representatives.

The kings of France traditionally bore the title gonfalonier of St. Denis. The honorary title of gonfalonier of the church (vexillifer ecclesiae) was conferred by the popes, from the 13th until the 17th century, on sovereigns and other distinguished persons.


Gothic, which may well have originated with Alberti as a derogatory term and which certainly corresponds to Vasari's 'maniera tedesca' ('German style'), is properly the descriptive term for an artistic style which achieved its first full flowering in the Ile de France and the surrounding areas in the period between c. 1200 and c. 1270, and which then spread throughout northern Europe. It is characterized by the hitherto unprecedented integration of the arts of sculpture, painting, stained glass and architecture which is epitomized in the great cathedrals of Chartres, Amiens, and Reims or in the Sainte Chapelle in Paris. In all the arts the predominantly planar forms of the Romanesque are replaced by an emphasis on line. There is a transcendental quality, whether in the soaring forms of the pointed arches or in the new stress on the humanity of Christ, which similarly distinguishes it from the preceding Romanesque style.

In thinking of Nicola (d. c. 1284) or Giovanni Pisano (d. after 1314) there is same danger of forgetting what had happened in French sculpture half a century or more earlier, and likewise it is hard to remember that the spectacular achievements of early Renaissance art are a singularly localized eddy in the continuing stream of late gothic European art. By northern European standards few Italian works of art can be called gothic without qualification, and the story of 13th and 14th century Italian architecture is as much one of resistance to the new style as of its reception, whether directly from France or through German or central European intermediaries. In sculpture and in painting, the Italian reluctance to distort the human figure, conditioned by a never wholly submerged awareness of the omnipresent antique heritage, gives a special quality to the work of even those artists such as Giovanni Pisano or Simone Martini who most closely approached a pure gothic style.

Nevertheless, the vitalizing role of Northern gothic art throughout the early Renaissance and the period leading up to it should never be underestimated. The artistic, like the cultural and commercial, interaction was continuous and much of the Italian achievement is incomprehensible if seen in isolation. It is not merely at the level of direct exchanges between one artist and another, or the influence of one building; painting, manuscript or piece of sculpture upon another, that the effects are to be felt. The streaming quality of line which is so characteristic of Brunelleschi's early Renaissance architecture surely reflects a sensitivity to the gothic contribution which is entirely independent of, and lies much deeper than, the superficial particularities of form.

The counterflow of influence and inspiration from South to North must likewise not be underrated. In particular, the contribution of Italian painters from Duccio and Simone Martini onwards is central to the evolution of the so-called International Gothic style developing in Burgundy, Bohemia and north Italy in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.

Gothic Revival (or Neo-Gothic)

Architectural style that drew its inspiration from medieval architecture and competed with the Neoclassical revivals in the United States and Great Britain. Only isolated examples of the style are to be found on the Continent.

The earliest documented example of the revived use of Gothic architectural elements is Strawberry Hill, the home of the English writer Horace Walpole. As in many of the early Gothic Revival buildings, the Gothic was used here for its picturesque and romantic qualities without regard for its structural possibilities or original function. Another early example of the tendency toward ornamentation and decoration was Fonthill Abbey, designed by James Wyatt, a country house with a tower 82 metres high. Nothing could more clearly illustrate both the impracticality of usage and the romantic associations with medieval life.

The earliest manifestations of an interest in the medieval era were in the private domain, but by the 1820s public buildings in England were also being designed in the Gothic mode. Perhaps no example is more familiar than the new Houses of Parliament (1840), designed by Sir Charles Barry and A.W.N. Pugin. In that large cluster of buildings, the haphazard picturesque quality of the early revival was replaced by a more conscientious adaptation of the medieval English style. Other structures built around mid-century were within this basic pattern. Later, the desire for more elegant and sumptuous landmarks created the last flowering of the style.


Gouache is opaque watercolour, known also as poster paint and designer's colour. It is thinned with water for applying, with sable- and hog-hair brushes, to white or tinted paper and card and, occasionally, to silk. Honey, starch, or acrylic is sometimes added to retard its quick-drying property. Liquid glue is preferred as a thinner by painters wishing to retain the tonality of colours (which otherwise dry slightly lighter in key) and to prevent thick paint from flaking. Gouache paints have the advantages that they dry out almost immediately to a mat finish and, if required, without visible brush marks. These qualities, with the capacities to be washed thinly or applied in thick impasto and a wide colour range that now includes fluorescent and metallic pigments, make the medium particularly suited to preparatory studies for oil and acrylic paintings. It is the medium that produces the suede finish and crisp lines characteristic of many Indian and Islamic miniatures, and it has been used in Western screen and fan decoration and by modern artists such as Rouault, Klee, Dubuffet, and Morris Graves.

Grand Manner

Term applied to the lofty and rhetorical manner of history painting that in academic theory was considered appropriate to the most serious and elevated subjects. The classic exposition of its doctrines is found in Reynolds's Third and Fourth Discourses (1770 and 1771), where he asserts that 'the gusto grande of the Italians, the beau idéal of the French, and the great style, genius, and taste among the English, are but different appellations of the same thing'. The idea of the Grand Manner took shape in 17th-century Italy, notably in the writings of Bellori. His friend Poussin and the great Bolognese painters of the 17th century were regarded as outstanding exponents of the Grand Manner, but the greatest of all was held to be Raphael.

Grand Tour

An extensive journey to the Continent, chiefly to France, the Netherlands, and above all Italy, sometimes in the company of a tutor, that became a conventional feature in the education of the English gentleman in the 18th century. Such tours often took a year or more. It had a noticeable effect in bringing a more cosmopolitan spirit to the taste of connoisseurs and laid the basis for many collections among the landed gentry. It also helped the spread of the fashion for Neoclassicism and an enthusiasm for Italian painting. Among the native artists who catered for this demand were Batoni, Canaletto, Pannini, and Piranesi, and British artists (such as Nollekens) were sometimes able to support themselves while in Italy by working for the dealers and restorers who supplied the tourist clientele. There was also a flourishing market in guide books.

graphic art

Term current with several different meanings in the literature of the visual arts. In the context of the fine arts, it most usually refers to those arts that rely essentially on line or tone rather than colour — i.e. drawing and the various forms of engraving. Some writers, however, exclude drawing from this definition, so that the term 'graphic art' is used to cover the various processes by which prints are created. In another sense, the term — sometimes shortened to 'graphics' — is used to cover the entire field of commercial printing, including text as well as illustrations.

Great Schism

a split in the Church, 1378-1417, when there were two lines of papal succession, one in Rome and one (of the so-called antipopes) in Avignon. The Great Schism was preceded by the so-called Babylonian Captivity, when the papacy resided in Avignon.

Greek cross

A cross with four arms of equal length.

Greek Revival

An architectural movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, predominantly in Northern Europe and the United States. A product of Hellenism, it may be looked upon as the last phase in the development of Neoclassical architecture.

grisaille (Fr. gris, "gray")

A painting done entirely in one colour, usually gray. Grisaille paintings were often intended to imitate sculpture.

groin vault

type of vaulting caused by two equally large barrel vaults crossing at right angles; the angle formed by the intersecting vaults in the groin, hence the term.


A Renaissance decorative scheme in paint or stucco that uses motifs discovered during the Renaissance in an ancient Roman setting that was presumed to be a grotto, hence the name. These motifs were interwoven into a variety of patterns to cover walls or pilasters.

Guelfs (Guelphs) and Ghibellines

Italian political terms derived from the German Welf, a personal and thence family name of the dukes of Bavaria, and Waiblingen, the name of a castle of the Hohenstaufen dukes of Swabia apparently used as a battle cry. Presumably introduced into Italy 1198-1218, when partisans of the Emperor Otto IV (Welf) contested central Italy with supporters of Philip of Swabia and his' nephew Frederick II, the terms do not appear in the chronicles until the Emperor Frederick's conflict with the Papacy 1235-50, when Guelf meant a supporter of the Pope and Ghibelline a supporter of the Empire. From 1266 to 1268, when Naples was conquered by Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX, the French connection became the touchstone of Guelfism, and the chain of Guelf alliances stretching from Naples, through central Italy, to Provence and Paris, underwritten by the financial interests of the Tuscan bankers, became an abiding feature of European politics. The Italian expeditions of Henry of Luxemburg (1310-13) and Lewis of Bavaria (1327-29) spread the terms to northern Italy, with the Visconti of Milan and the della Scala of Verona emerging as the leading Ghibelline powers. Attempts by Guelf propagandists to claim their party as the upholder of liberty and their opponents as the protagonists of tyranny rarely coincide with the truth: power politics, then as now, generally overrode ideology in inter-state affairs.

Factional struggles had existed within the Italian states from time immemorial, the parties taking a multitude of local names. In Florence, however, Guelf and Ghibelline were applied to the local factions which supposedly originated in a feud between the Buondelmonte and Amidei clans, c. 1216. In 1266-67 the Guelf party, which had recruited most of the merchant class, finally prevailed over the predominantly noble Ghibellines; after this, internal factions in Florence went under other names, like the Blacks and the Whites who contested for control of the commune between 1295 and 1302. Meanwhile the Parte Guelfa had become a corporate body whose wealth and moral authority as the guardian of political orthodoxy enabled it to play the part of a powerful pressure group through most of the 14th century. After the War of the Eight Saints, the influence of the Parte declined rapidly. Although its palace was rebuilt c. 1418-58 to the designs of Brunelleschi, it had no part in the conflicts surrounding the rise of the Medici régime.


An association of the masters of a particular craft, trade or profession (painters, goldsmiths, surgeons, and so on) set up to protect its members' rights and interests. Such guilds existed in virtually every European city in the 16th century. The guild also monitored standards of work, acted as a court for those who brought their trade into disrepute, and provided assistance to members in need.

guilds (in Italy)

Guilds were essentially associations of masters in particular crafts, trades, or professions. In Italy they go back a long way; there is documentary evidence of guilds in 6th century Naples. In origin they were clubs which observed religious festivals together and attended the funerals of their members, but in time they acquired other functions. Their economic function was to control standards and to enforce the guild's monopoly of particular activities in a particular territory. Their political function was to participate in the government of the city-state. In some cities, notably Florence in the 14th century, only guildsmen were eligible for civic office, thus excluding both noblemen (unless they swallowed their pride and joined, as some did), and unskilled workers like the woolcombers and dyers. In Florence in 1378 these groups demanded the right to form their own guilds, and there were similar movements of protest in Siena and Bologna.

Guilds were also patrons of art, commissioning paintings for guildhalls, contributing to the fabric fund of cathedrals and collaborating on collective projects like the statues for Orsanmichele at Florence. The guilds were not equal. In Florence, the 7 'Greater Guilds', including such prestigious occupations as judges and bankers, outranked the 14 'Lesser Guilds', and in general the guild hierarchy was reflected in the order of precedence in processions. The great age of the guilds was the 13th and 14th centuries. The economic recession after 1348 meant fewer opportunities for journeymen to become masters, and greater hostility between master and man. The shift from trade to land in the 15th and 16th centuries meant a decline in the social standing of the crafts. In some towns, such as Brescia and Vicenza, guild membership actually became a disqualification instead of a qualification for municipal office. The guilds lost their independence and became instruments of state control. In 16th century Venice, for example, they were made responsible for supplying oarsmen for the galleys of the state.


Hague School

Dutch painters who worked in The Hague between 1860 and 1900, producing renderings of local landscapes and the daily activities of local fisherman and farmers in the style of Realism. In this they extended the traditional focus on genre of the 17th-century Dutch masters with the fresh observation of their contemporary French counterparts, the Barbizon school. The group included Jozef Israëls; Hendrik Willem Mesdag; Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch; Jacob Maris, Matthijs Maris, and Willem Maris; Johannes Bosboom; and Anton Mauve.


In landscape-gardening, a boundary to a garden designed not to interrupt a view from e.g. a country-house. It consists of a ditch with side or revetment nearest the viewpoint perpendicular (or slightly battered), faced with brick or stone, and the other side sloped and turfed. It kept animals away from the area contiguous to the house, yet was concealed. It appears to have been a French invention called ah, ah (said to be an exclamation of surprise, but more likely to be derived from a corruption of the Old English word for a hedge), described as having un fosse sec au pied in d'Argenville's La Théorie et la Pratique du Jardinage (1709), and may have been first used in England by Guillaume Beaumont (fl. late 17th and early 18th centuries) at Levens Hall, Westmor., around 1698. It was used in many English landscape gardens, notably by Bridgeman and Kent.

hall church

church whose nave and aisles are of equal height; a similar form has a raised nave but no clerestory. Loosely, an aisle-less church.


In a drawing, print or painting, a series of close parallel lines that create the effect of shadow, and therefore contour and three-dimensionality In crosshatching the lines overlap.

heraldry (Fr. [science] héraldique, "[knowledge of] heraldry," from Fr. héraut, "herald")

the study of the meaning of emblems and coats of arms, with the rules governing their use.

heresy (pre-Reformation)

The heretical movements affecting Italy between the mid-12th and the mid-14th century had their main impact in an area covering the north-west of the peninsula and southern France: it is not possible to speak of distinct Italian and meridional French movements. The authentically Christian movements which were expelled from the Catholic Church must in the first instance be distinguished from Catharism, which represented an infiltration by the originally non-Christian dualist system of Manichaeanism; from the start, the Cathars were an anti-church. By contrast, the Waldensian, Spiritual and Joachimite movements appeared initially as vital manifestations of Catholicism; only after their condemnation by the ecclesiastical authorities do they seem to have developed notably eccentric doctrines and to have described themselves as the true Church in opposition to the institutional Church; they had a recognizable kinship with movements that remained within the pale of orthodoxy.

These Christian heresies had in common an attachment to the ideal of apostolic poverty, which came to be seen by the ecclesiastical authorities as a challenge to the institutionalized Church. The Waldensians or Valdesi (not to be confused with Valdesiani, the followers of Juan de Valdes, d. 1541) took their origin from the Poor Men of Lyons, founded by Peter Valdes or Waldo in the 1170s. They were distinguished by a strong attachment to the Bible and a desire to imitate Christ's poverty. At first approved by the Papacy as an order of laymen, they were condemned in 1184. Likewise condemned was the rather similar Lombard movement of the Humiliati. One stream of these remained as an approved order within the Catholic Church, while others merged with the Waldensians. The Waldensians came to teach that the sacraments could be administered validly only by the pure, i.e: only by Waldensian superiors or perfecti practising evangelical poverty. Alone among the heretical sects existing in Italy they were organized as a church, and regarded themselves as forming, together with brethren north of the Alps, one great missionary community. They spread all over western and central Europe but in the long term they came to be largely confined to the Rhaetian and Cottian Alps (the Grisons and Savoy). The Italian Waldensians in the 16th century resisted absorption by Reformed Protestantism.

The early Franciscans might be regarded as a movement, similar in character to the Poor Men of Lyons, which was won for the cause of Catholic orthodoxy. However, divisions within the order over the issue of poverty led to religious dissidence. The Spirituals held up the ideal of strict poverty as obligatory for Franciscans and, indeed, normative for churchmen; following the Papacy's recognition of the Franciscan order as a property-owning body in 1322-23, their position became one of criticism of the institutional Church as such. Their heresies came to incorporate the millenarian doctrines of the 12th century abbot Joachim of Fiore. He had prophesied a coming age of the Holy Spirit ushered in by Spiritual monks; his heretical followers prophesied a new Spiritual gospel that would supersede the Bible. Joachimite Spiritualists came to see the pope, head of the 'carnal Church', as Antichrist. The main impact of the movement upon the laity was in southern France; in Italy it was an affair of various groups of fraticelli de paupere vita (little friars of the poor life), mainly in the south.


A courtesan of ancient Greece. There may have been one or two hetaira called Lais in ancient Corinth. One was the model of the celebrated painter Apelles.

hetoimasia (Greek: Etimasia, "preparation")

prepared throne, Preparation of the Throne, ready throne or Throne of the Second Coming is the Christian version of the symbolic subject of the empty throne found in the art of the ancient world. In the Middle Byzantine period, from about 1000, it came to represent more specifically the throne prepared for the Second Coming of Christ, a meaning it has retained in Eastern Orthodox art to the present.

history painting

Painting concerned with the representation of scenes from the Bible, history (usually classical history), and classical literature. From the Renaissance to the 19th century it was considered the highest form of painting, its subjects considered morally elevating.

horseshoe arch

an arch that forms a bulbous horseshoe shape, found mostly in Islamic architecture.

hortus conclusus (Lat. 'enclosed garden')

a representation of the Virgin and Child in a fenced garden, sometimes accompanied by a group of female saints. The garden is a symbolic allusion to a phrase in the Song of Songs (4:12): 'A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse'.

Hudson River school

group of American landscape painters, working from 1825 to 1875. The 19th-century romantic movements of England, Germany, and France were introduced to the United States by such writers as Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper. At the same time, American painters were studying in Rome, absorbing much of the romantic aesthetic of the European painters. Adapting the European ideas about nature to a growing pride in the beauty of their homeland, for the first time a number of American artists began to devote themselves to landscape painting instead of portraiture. First of the group of artists properly classified with the Hudson River school was Thomas Doughty; his tranquil works greatly influenced later artists of the school. Thomas Cole, whose dramatic and colourful landscapes are among the most impressive of the school, may be said to have been its leader during the group's most active years. Among the other important painters of the school are Asher B. Durand, J. F. Kensett, S. F. B. Morse, Henry Inman, Jasper Cropsey, Frederick E. Church, and, in his earlier work, George Inness.

humanism (Lat. humanus, "human")

philosophical movement which started in Italy in the mid-14th century, and which drew on antiquity to make man the focal point. In humanism, the formative spiritual attitude of the Renaissance, the emancipation of man from God took place. It went hand in hand with a search for new insights into the spiritual and scientific workings of this world. The humanists paid particular attention to the rediscovery and nurture of the Greek and Latin languages and literature. To this day the term denotes the supposedly ideal combination of education based on classical erudition and humanity based on observation of reality.

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