Neoclassicism & the Enlightenment Glossary Académie Royale

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J. Paul Getty Museum Education Department
Neoclassicism & the Enlightenment Glossary

Académie Royale: French academy of fine arts established in 1648 under Louis XIV, including an art school in Paris and a branch in Rome, the Académie de France. The Académie began mounting regular exhibitions of members' work, called Salons, in 1737 and existed on and off during the nineteenth century.
acanthus: Prickly broad-leaved plant of the Mediterranean often used as a design motif in art. Also refers to an ornamentation (as in a Corinthian capital) representing or suggesting the leaves of the acanthus.
Adam, Robert: Scottish architect and designer who, with his brother James, transformed Palladian Neoclassicism in England into the airy, light, elegant style that bears their name. His major architectural works include public buildings (especially in London), and his designs were used for the interiors of grand country mansions.
Aesthetics: A branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty.
d’Alembert, Jean Le Rond: Coeditor of the Encyclopédie which became famous—and controversia—principally because many of its articles reflected the impious attitudes of its contributors, like Voltaire and Rousseau. More than a summary of all contemporary knowledge, it served as a manifesto for a new way of looking at the world. D'Alembert's insistence on the dignity and genius of men usually scorned as commoners foreshadowed the rise of egalitarian attitudes, which were to undermine the old aristocratic order.
allegory: A method of representation in literature or art. An object, word, or story stands for itself while simultaneously symbolizing something else, usually a broad idea or concept. For instance, a girl and broken vase may indirectly tell a story of innocence lost.
Amphora(e): An ancient two-handled storage jar that held oil, wine, milk, or grain. It was sometimes used as a grave marker or as a container for funeral offerings or human remains. Also the term for a unit of measure.
ancien régime: The political and social system of France before the Revolution of 1789.
antiquarian: Of, or relating to, antiquity; see below.
antique: From antiquity; see below.
antiquity: Term used to refer to classical Greek and Roman civilization. Between about 1400 and 1900, the literature, art, and architecture of antiquity were assumed to be of superior quality and worth special study.
Apollo: The twin brother of Artemis (Roman, Diana), son of Zeus and Leto. Apollo represents masculine beauty and reason and is associated with the sun, music, medicine, and prophecy. His symbols are the sun, chariot, bow, quiver, lyre, and laurel. Famous men, including Alexander the Great, visited his sanctuary at Delphi.
arabesques: An ornament or style that employs flower, foliage, or fruit and sometimes animal and figural outlines to produce an intricate pattern of interlaced lines.
Archaistic: The particular stylistic character of a work of art that intentionally imitates the styles characteristic of earlier or Archaic (the culture and art of Greece from 700 to 480 B.C.) art forms.
Ariadne: Daughter of King Minos of Crete. She helped Theseus escape the Minotaur's labyrinth with a ball of thread. Theseus deserted her on Naxos, but Dionysus, god of the island, married her and carried her off to Mount Olympus.
Athena: Patroness of Athens; virgin warrior goddess born fully armed from the head of Zeus. The Romans called her Minerva. She presided over the arts, literature, spinning, and weaving. Athena's symbols are the owl and olive tree.
Attic: Of, relating to, or having the characteristics of Athens or its ancient civilization.
attribute: An object closely associated with or belonging to a specific person, thing, or office. For example, a scepter is an attribute of power; a crown, an attribute for a king.
Avisse, Jean: Avisse was one of the many carvers who toiled with little recognition in Paris in the 1700s. His elaborately carved chairs are finely detailed, with creative variations on common motifs such as shells, flowers, and leaves. He used the stamp IAVISSE to mark his works.
balustrade: A railing with upright vase-shaped supports.
Baroque: The principal European style in the visual arts in the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth century. It was based on the formal values of the classical orders of architecture, monumental scale, and the use of color and luxurious materials.
black-figure painting: A technique of Greek vase painting in common use from the early 600s to about 500 B.C. Figures were painted in solid black silhouette against a red background with details added by incision or painting before firing.
Boucher, François: For Boucher, "art” meant "artifice.” He could paint straightforward genre scenes and portraits when appropriate, but the times called for enchantment and frolic, with just the right touch of titillation. Boucher's paintings and drawings celebrated a silvery, shimmering world of perfumes and powders, inspiring copies of his designs in media ranging from textiles to porcelain.
bust: In sculpture, a representation of the head and upper part of the body, often mounted on a socle or base. Busts may show only the head and neck or may include shoulders, arms, and sometimes hands. Many busts are portraits.
Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canale): It was fashionable for eighteenth-century English tourists on the Grand Tour to bring home a Canaletto veduta, or view painting, to commemorate their trip. A Venetian native, Canaletto was first trained by his father, a theatrical scene painter. In 1719 Canaletto went to Rome for a year, possibly studying with Dutch and Italian painters of classical ruins.
Canova, Antonio: Called "the supreme minister of beauty" and "a unique and truly divine man" by contemporaries, Canova was considered the greatest sculptor of his time.
Catherine II: Known as Catherine the Great, she reigned as czarina of Russia from 1762 to her death in 1796. A great collector of art and a patron to many Neoclassical artists, she exemplified the so-called enlightened monarch.
Chardin, Jean-Siméon: A Parisian carpenter's son, Chardin was not interested in the superficial; it was the very essence of objects and the underlying humanity of his figures that he evoked with tiny slabs of saturated paint. He helped to elevate still life to a respected category of painting, and his name remains inextricably associated with it. The novelist Marcel Proust wrote, "We have learned from Chardin that a pear is as living as a woman, that an ordinary piece of pottery is as beautiful as a precious stone."
chiaroscuro: An Italian term meaning "light-dark." It is a technique in painting, drawing, and the graphic arts to describe the effects of light and shadow on form through the contrast of light and dark areas.
classical: Word used to describe a prime example of quality or "ideal" beauty. It often refers to the culture, art, literature, or ideals of the ancient Greek and Roman world, especially that of Greece in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.
classicizing: Art of any period that attempts to re-create features of Greco-Roman art, architecture, and literature such as antique subjects or themes. Common in classicizing art is a sense of balance, rational proportion, and "ideal" beauty.
Cochin, Charles-Nicolas the Younger: Outstanding French engraver of the eighteenth century. The son of Charles-Nicolas the Elder, from whom he learned engraving, Cochin rose to national prominence early in his career. As a member of the académie royale (admitted in 1751) and the keeper of the king's drawings (a post he was given in 1752), he was officially enabled to exert his influence on the artistic taste of his day.
composition: The act or process of arranging into specific proportion or relation in an artistic form.
Copley, John Singleton: American portrait painter, considered the greatest of the American old masters. In 1774 visited Italy and then settled in London, where he spent the remainder of his life, enjoying many honors and the patronage of a distinguished clientele. In England he continued to paint portraits but enlarged his repertoire to include the enormous historical paintings that constituted the chief basis of his fame abroad. His large historical painting The Death of Lord Chatham (1779—80) gained him admittance to the Royal Academy. His rendering of a contemporary disaster, Brook Watson and the Shark (1778), stands as a unique forerunner of Romantic horror painting.
curiae: Buildings used for senate assembly and meeting in ancient Rome.
decorative arts: Any of those arts that are concerned with the design and decoration of objects that are prized for their utility rather than for their purely aesthetic qualities. Ceramics, glassware, basketry, jewelry, metalware, furniture, textiles, clothing, architectural fittings, and other such goods are the objects most commonly associated with the decorative arts.
Diana: Roman, goddess of the hunt.
Dibutade: Legendary Corinthian maiden, known as the inventor of drawing, named after her father, Butades, who was a potter of Sikyon.
Diderot, Denis: A French essayist, philosopher, and art critic who helped initiate, shape, and interpret the Enlightenment. He was the chief editor of the Encyclopédie and the author of numerous novels, short stories, plays, and reviews. Diderot’s work embodied rationalism and often criticized society.
Dionysus: Greek god of wine and inspiration (Roman, Bacchus), son of Zeus; taught by Silenus and the satyrs about drinking. His high-spirited rituals included drinking, wild dancing, and mask wearing. From this type of celebration, tragedy and comedy were born. Dionysus’s symbols are a crown of grape leaves or ivy; a decorated staff known as a thyrsus; a cup of wine; a bunch of grapes; and a chariot pulled by tigers, leopards, or goats.
Dionysiac: Of, or related to, Dionysus.
ébéniste: A craftsman in the French guild system who specialized in cabinetmaking, veneers, and marquetry. The name comes from the use of ebony and other exotic woods.
empiricism: The practice of relying on observation and experiment, especially in the natural sciences.
enamel: A fired-on opaque glassy coating on metal or ceramic.
Encyclopédie: Published over the course of more than twenty years (1751-1777), the 32 volumes of the Encyclopédie include 21 volumes of text with more than 70,000 articles on subjects ranging from asparagus to zodiac. The remaining 11 volumes contain beautifully engraved plates illustrating many of the articles. The Encyclopédie was the major achievement of the French Enlightenment whose aim, in Diderot's words, was to "change the common way of thinking" through the expansion of knowledge and the development of critical modes of thought.
Enlightenment: Dominant intellectual trend of thought in Western Europe and America in the 1700s, characterized by a confidence in reason and a belief in progress. This rational approach to economic, religious, social, and political issues promoted a secular worldview.
Etruria: Region in northern and central Italy inhabited by the Etruscans. This group of independent city-states was at its peak from the 700s to the 400s B.C. Etruria gradually fell victim to the growing power of Rome. Also name of pottery works of Joseph Wedgwood.
Etruscan: Of, or relating to, Etruria; see above.
Eucharis: The nymph loved by Telemachus, son of the Homeric hero Odysseus. In the romantic novel The Adventures of Telemachus of 1699, the author, François Fénelon, expanded on Homer and wrote that Telemachus abandoned Eucharis at the command of Athena so that he might find his father.
Fénelon, François: A celebrated French bishop and author; tutor to the Duke of Burgundy, eldest son of Louis XIV. Wrote The Adventures of Telemachus, in which, under the guise of fiction, he taught the young prince lessons of self-control and all the duties required by his exalted position.
finial: A crowning ornament or detail, such as a decorative knob.
Flemish: Relating to, or characteristic of, Flanders, a region of Europe along the coast of what is now Belgium and adjacent parts of France and the Netherlands.
formal: Relating to or involving the outward form, structure, relationships, or arrangement of elements rather than subject or content.

French Revolution: Began in 1789 with the storming of the Bastille prison and the destruction of the absolute monarchy of the Bourbons and the system of aristocratic privileges. The bloodshed and executions ended when Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in 1799.
frieze: An element of classical architectural order, often a sculptured or richly ornamented band on a building or piece of furniture.
genre: A type of painting showing scenes from everyday life and surroundings, particularly popular in the seventeenth-century Netherlands. The term also refers to the various types of subject matter: history, portraiture, landscape, still life, and flower painting.
gilt: A surface covered in gold. Also known as gilded.
Goût Grec: Meaning “Greek Taste.” Stylistic term for the first phase of French Neoclassicism. It is correctly applied only to those examples of French decorative arts and architecture dating from the mid-1750s to the late 1760s that are severely rectilinear, with chunky classical details, such as Vitruvian scrolls, Greek-key patterns, and geometrical garlands.
Grand Tour: In the 1700s, the European cultural phenomenon of the Grand Tour reached its culmination. Wealthy Europeans, especially young British noblemen, undertook the challenging journey across northern Europe to reach Italy. They might spend up to eight years on their cultural pilgrimage, sometimes including a lengthy period of study. In contact with the touchstone of the Classical past, these aristocrats forged their personal, intellectual, and civic identity.
griffin: These half-lion/half-eagle creatures symbolize both heaven and earth, as their bodies allow them to move in both worlds simultaneously. In Greece, the griffin was a symbol of vigilant strength and was associated with Apollo and Nemesis (the goddess of retribution).
grotesque: This style in art takes its name from the word grotto and refers to design motifs found in the underground excavations of the Roman Emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea (Gold House).
grotto: Italian word meaning cave. Grottoes were artificial caves, often containing a fountain and decorated with rocks and shells. They were popular in European gardens from the Renaissance to the 1800s.
guild: Economic and social organization for those practicing the same business or craft. Formed for mutual aid and protection, a guild would commonly maintain standards, set prices, and protect the interests of its members.
Hamilton, Gavin: Scottish-born painter of scenes from history, portraitist, archaeologist, and art dealer who was one of the pioneers of Neoclassicism. He was part of Rome's inner circle of antiquarians and Neoclassical artists. Perhaps his best-known works were his paintings of scenes from Homer's Iliad, executed in the 1760s in a severely classical style. Hamilton also conducted important excavations of ancient sites near Rome and sold many of the discovered artifacts and art objects to British collectors.

Herculaneum: Pompeii's sister city, destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.
history painting: Considered by the academies to be the highest form of art, as it was regarded as the most artistic and intellectual and required an impeccable rendering of the human figure. To qualify as history painting, a work had to draw its subject from classical history, literature, or the Bible. In the late 1600s, scenes of contemporary events also became acceptable subjects.
Homer: Greek epic poet who probably lived between the ninth and eighth century B.C. He is credited as the author of the Iliad, about the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, about the return of the hero Odysseus to his home in Ithaca, Greece.
Houdon, Jean-Antoine: French sculptor skilled in clay, plaster, bronze, and marble. Houdon became a member of the Académie Royale in 1771 and a professor in 1778. He made his reputation with his portraits, producing a veritable who’s who of his era's royalty, artists, and philosophers. Patrons appreciated his ability to give marble the effect of living flesh as well as his knack for capturing his sitters’ personalities.
Hume, David: Generally regarded as the most important philosopher ever to write in English, Hume was also noted as an historian and essayist. A master stylist in any genre, his major philosophical works remain widely and deeply influential, despite their being denounced by many of his contemporaries as works of skepticism and atheism. Charles Darwin counted Hume as a central influence, as did "Darwin's bulldog," Thomas Henry Huxley. The diverse directions in which these writers took what they gleaned from reading Hume reflect the wide range of his empiricism. Contemporary philosophers recognize Hume as one of the most thoroughgoing exponents of philosophical naturalism.
iconography: The traditional or conventional images or symbols associated with a subject, especially a religious or legendary subject.
Imperial Rome: Period during which Rome was ruled by emperors, beginning with Augustus in 27 B.C. and lasting until the end of the Roman Empire in the fifth century A.D.
Jacobin: A member of an extremist republican club of the French Revolution, founded in Versailles in 1789. Jacobins proclaimed the French republic, had the king executed, and overthrew the moderate Girondins (1792–93). Through the Committee of Public Safety, they began the Reign of Terror, led by Maximilien Robespierre. After Robespierre’s execution in 1794, the club was abandoned and the name Jacobin passed into general use for any left-wing extremist.
Jupiter: Roman, supreme god and ruler of Olympus.
Kant, Immanuel: German metaphysician, one of the greatest figures in philosophy. Instead of assuming that our ideas, to be true, must conform to an external reality independent of our knowing, Kant proposed that objective reality is known only insofar as it conforms to the essential structure of the knowing mind. He maintained that objects of experience—phenomena—may be known, but that things lying beyond the realm of possible experience—noumena, or things-in-themselves—are unknowable, although their existence is a necessary presupposition.
Kauffman, Angelica: Swiss Neoclassical painter and graphic artist. From her youth she was known for her artistic, musical, and linguistic abilities. She went to England, where she enjoyed success as a fashionable portrait painter and decorator. A protégée of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Kauffman was one of the original members of the Royal Academy.
Kent, William: English architect, interior designer, landscape gardener, and painter, a principal master of the Palladian architectural style in England and pioneer in the creation of the “informal” English garden.
Latrobe, Benjamin Henry: British-born architect and civil engineer who established architecture as a profession in the United States. He was the most original proponent of the Greek Revival style in American building.
Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim: German philosopher, dramatist, and critic, one of the most influential figures of the Enlightenment. Lessing differentiated between the poet as interpreter of time and the artist as interpreter of space; he found different aesthetic criteria applicable to each. A deist, Lessing took theology seriously. He applied Enlightenment ideas of progress and evolution to religion.
Locke, John: English philosopher, founder of British empiricism. He summed up the Enlightenment in his belief in the middle class and its right to freedom of conscience and right to property, in his faith in science, and in his confidence in the goodness of humanity. His influence on philosophy and political theory has been incalculable.
Louis XVI: King of France from 1774 to 1793, Louis (1754–1793) was the grandson of Louis XV, who he succeeded. He married Marie-Antoinette, daughter of the Hapsburg empress Maria Theresa. France was in financial trouble, and Louis’s involvement in the American War of Independence exacerbated an already growing national debt. He resisted national reforms and was brought with his family to Paris in 1789 as a hostage of the revolutionaries. In 1792 his constitutional position was suspended. Later that year, insurrectionists abolished the monarchy, and the king and queen were executed by guillotine in 1793.
Louis XVIII: King of France (1814–24), brother of King Louis XVI. Known as the Comte de Provence, he fled (1791) to Koblenz from the French Revolution. He passed his exile on the continent and in England. With the assistance of Charles de Talleyrand, he was restored (1814) to the French throne after the fall of Napoleon. He adopted a conciliatory policy toward the former revolutionists and granted a constitutional charter.
maenad: Female follower of Dionysus, often shown naked or half-dressed. Maenads were also known as bacchantes. They played flutes or tambourines as they danced. Maenads had power over wild animals, often riding panthers.
Marie-Antoinette: Queen of France, wife of Louis XVI. Born in 1755, she was the youngest daughter of Francis I the Holy Roman Emperor and his wife, Maria Theresa. Marie-Antoinette was executed in 1793.
marquetry: A decorative veneer composed of numerous small pieces of wood or other materials applied to the surfaces of furniture. Marquetry patterns may be scenic, floral, abstract, or arabesque.
medallion: A large medal or any round metal object made for commemorative purposes. The term also refers to a round decorative panel, usually bearing a figure or portrait in relief, set into a wall.
Minerva: Roman goddess of wisdom, war, and the arts (Greek, Athena). Along with Jupiter and Juno, she was a major deity of the Romans. Minerva presided over intellectual and academic activity. Her attributes include the owl, the olive leaf, a helmet, and a shield or breastplate often decorated with the head of Medusa.
Moser, Mary: The daughter of George Moser, a Swiss enameler who was the first keeper of the British Royal Academy. A fashionable flower painter patronized by Queen Charlotte, Moser was one of only two floral painters accepted into the Royal Academy upon its founding in 1768.
motif: The main theme or idea present in a work of art or elaborated and developed through separate works of art. The term also refers to a repeated form or pattern in a work of art.
mounts: An ornamental piece, usually made of gilt bronze, and more rarely of silver or gold, attached to furniture and to objects, such as porcelain, as decoration to protect the edges of the work or the wood veneers.
movement: The moving parts of a mechanism that generate a definite motion, as in a clock. Also refers to an organized effort to promote or attain an end, such as a trend in art or social political endeavor.
Napoleon Bonaparte: Corsican-born French general. He rose to power in France through successful military campaigns against the French monarchy and France’s neighboring states in pursuit of social reform. In 1804 he crowned himself emperor of France. At the height of his power, the French empire included France, Belgium, Holland, Croatia, Dalmatia, and parts of Italy. His invasion of Russia was disastrous, and his enemies saw this as a chance to overthrow him. Napoleon was forced to abdicate, and in 1815 he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo and exiled to the tiny island of Saint Helena off the coast of Africa.
Nike: Greek goddess of victory. She is represented in art as winged and flying. A frequent companion of the goddess Athena, Nike was the daughter of a Titan and a river goddess.
nymphs: Beautiful young girls, spirits of nature, who spent their days spinning and singing. Nymphs attended to great goddesses, particularly Artemis, or higher-status nymphs such as Calypso. Their usual lovers were Pan and the satyrs, but they also attracted gods and mortals.
Odysseus: Greek hero in the Trojan War, husband of Penelope. In the Iliad he is characterized as enterprising and courageous. The Odyssey relates his adventures over a ten-year period after the fall of Troy. He was reunited with his faithful wife after twenty years. Odysseus’s Roman name is Ulysses.
Palladianism: Style of architecture based on the writings and buildings of the humanist and theorist from Venice, Andrea Palladio (1508–1580), perhaps the greatest architect of the latter sixteenth century and certainly the most influential. Palladio felt that architecture should be governed by reason and by the principles of classical antiquity, as it was known in surviving buildings, and in the writings of the first-century-B.C. architect and theorist Vitruvius. Palladianism bespeaks rationality in its clarity, order, and symmetry, while it also pays homage to antiquity in its use of classical forms and decorative motifs.
palmette: A decorative motif suggestive of a palm frond.
Pan: Greek god of flocks and fertility, part-man and part-goat. Always playful and lecherous, he loved and pursued nymphs and boys. Pan could also induce "panic," or terror, in men. He invented a flute with seven reeds, the syrinx.
Panathenaia: Summer festival held annually, and every four years with greater ceremony, in Athens on the birthday of Athena. It consisted of athletic and musical contests, sacrifices, and a procession.
pediment: A triangular space that forms the gable of a low-pitched roof and that is often filled with relief sculpture in classical architecture. Can also refer to a similar type of form used as decoration.
Penelope: One of the characters from Homer’s Odyssey. She is the wife of Odysseus and mother of Telemachus. Penelope faithfully waited twenty years for her husband to return from war.
personification: Representation of a thing or abstraction as a person, or by the human form.
philosophe: A deistic or materialistic writer and thinker of the eighteenth-century French Enlightenment.
Piranesi, Giovanni Battista: An Italian etcher, archaeologist, designer, theorist, and architect, Piranesi was born in Venice. His highly original designs and ideas influenced many artists and literary figures during and beyond his lifetime. His extensive artistic output was widely dispersed through prints sold to Grand Tourists, who often visited his flourishing workshop.
Platonic Ideal: The highest goal in all of education, Plato believed, is knowledge of the Good; that is, not merely an awareness of particular benefits and pleasures, but acquaintance with the Form itself. Just as the sun provides illumination by means of which we are able to perceive everything in the visual world, he argued, so the Form of the Good provides the ultimate standard by means of which we can apprehend the reality of everything that has value.
Pliny the Elder: Gaius Plinius Cecilius Secundus, known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman senator, commander of the imperial fleet, scholar, and encyclopedist. In A.D. 77 he published the first encyclopedia, Natural History, based on his scientific observations of the world around him. In it he retells the Greek myth of the Invention of Drawing. Pliny died in A.D. 79 while witnessing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Pompeii: An ancient Roman city near Naples that was buried in the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Volcanic debris preserved the city until archaeologists began excavations in 1748. It is famous for its well-preserved private homes and spurred a newfound interest in archeology and antiquity that greatly influenced Neoclassicism.
Prix de Rome: The preeminent student prize in painting, sculpture, and architecture awarded by the Académie Royale in Paris. Winners of the prize traveled to Rome to study at the Académie de France. Established in the mid-1600s, the prize was abolished in 1968.
red-figure painting: Reverse technique to black-figure painting. A style of ancient Greek vase painting used from the late 500s through the 300s B.C. It is characterized by red, clay-colored figures in silhouette against a black background.
relief: A sculptural composition that stands out from a flat surface, called the plane of relief, in a carved or modeled work of art. There are varying degrees of relief—low, middle, and high—depending on the amount of projection.
Republican Rome: Period during which power was exercised by annually elected commanders advised by the senate, a council of elders. The republic began in 509 B.C., when the Etruscan kings were overthrown, and ended in 27 B.C., when Augustus became emperor.
Reynolds, Joshua: English portrait painter. Long considered historically the most important of England's painters, by his learned example he raised the artist to a position of respect in England. When the Royal Academy was founded in 1768, Reynolds was elected its president and was knighted the following year. His annual discourses before the academy have literary distinction and are a significant exposition of academic style, propounding eclectic generalization over direct observation and allusion to the classical past over the present. The Grand Style, thus proclaimed, was of enormous influence in the development of English portraiture.
Riesener, Jean-Henri: One of the most celebrated ébénistes of late eighteenth-century Paris. In 1769 Riesener began to supply the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne (the Furniture Warehouse of the Crown); five years later he received the official title of ébéniste du roi (Cabinetmaker to the King). Riesener survived the French Revolution by removing royal emblems from furniture for the new régime.
van Risenburgh, Bernard II: The four mysterious initials of the stamp BVRB concealed a dynasty of ébénistes of Netherlandish origin whose identity was only uncovered in 1957. Although all used the same Christian name and surname, Bernard II van Risenburgh was the first to stamp his furniture using the monogram BVRB; he is now regarded as the greatest ébéniste of the reign of Louis XV.
Robespierre, Maximilien: Leader of the radical Jacobin faction during the French Revolution. A fervent believer in democracy, he rose to power by opposing moderate monarchists. His popularity waned during his ruthless dictatorship, and he was executed in 1794.
Rococo: From the French rocaille, meaning rock work. A style of painting, architecture, and interior decoration from 1720 to the 1760s, especially prominent during Louis XV's reign. Asymmetry, gaiety, and naturalistic motifs deriving from rocks and shells characterize the style.
Romanticism: A movement in art, literature, and music of the early 1800s. Romanticism exalted the sublime beauty of nature; the artist's emotional, personal, and imaginative faculties and individual genius; and subjects that were sublime, exotic, transcendental, and mysterious.
rosette: A disk of foliage or a floral design usually in relief used as a decorative motif.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: French philosopher, writer, and political theorist of the Enlightenment. His philosophical ideas marked the end of the Age of Reason and encouraged revolutionary thinking. He endorsed a return to nature, virtue, a renewed interest in children and childhood, and universal rights to liberty and happiness. His critics found him hypocritical for promoting a lifestyle to which he did not conform.
Royal Academy: The leading art academy in England, founded in 1768 to establish formal training and professional standards for artists and supported by royal patronage. By the mid-1800s its influence lessened as many artists found it and its rules old-fashioned.
Salon: The periodic art exhibitions sponsored by the French Académie Royale. Begun in 1667, Salons were irregular until 1737, when they became public events. Salons were among the most prestigious and influential exhibitions of European art until the development of independent art societies in the late 1800s.
sarcophagus: Stone, metal, terracotta, or wooden container for the burial of human remains. Throughout the ancient world, sarcophagi were displayed in a variety of ways, most commonly in family tombs.
satyr: A creature in Greek mythology that was half-man and half-horse/goat. Followers of the god Dionysus, satyrs inhabited woods and forests and often took part in drinking and wild dancing.
Square House (Maison-Carée): Roman temple at Nîmes, France, in remarkably good repair. According to an inscription, it was dedicated to Gaius and Lucius Caesar, adopted sons of Augustus, and dates from the beginning of the Christian era. The Maison-Carée measures eighty-two feet long by forty feet wide and is one of the most beautiful monuments built in Gaul by the Romans.
squared: A method for transferring a drawing to another, usually larger, surface. Both surfaces are first ruled off into an equal number of squares. The lines within each square are then transferred freehand to the larger, corresponding squares.
Telemachus: According to Homer’s Odyssey, the only son of Odysseus and Penelope. As a child, he fell into the sea and was saved by dolphins. After the Trojan War, he was advised by Athena to find his father. He helped Odysseus kill Penelope’s suitors.
terracotta: Italian for "baked earth." Term for reddish brown clay that has been fired at a low temperature and left unglazed. Terracotta is used to make pottery, sculpture, architectural decorations, and tiles.
veneer: Very thin sheets of exotic wood, often chosen for their decorative appearance or their precious quality, used to cover the surface of furniture made of cheaper wood. Veneers can also be made of ivory, tortoiseshell, pewter, or brass.
Voltaire: François-Marie Arouet, called Voltaire, was a French writer, playwright, and philosopher of the Enlightenment whose ideas influenced the French Revolution. He was an advocate of human rights and an opponent of tyranny, bigotry, and cruelty. Due to his strong opinions and politically charged writings, his favor with the French court constantly wavered, which prevented him from living in Paris most of his life. He returned there, however, shortly before his death as a celebrated luminary.
wash: A diluted watercolor or ink applied with a brush to a paper surface in a thin, transparent layer. The term usually refers to a uniform area of transparent color covered quickly with a broad brush.
Wedgwood, Josiah: English potter, whose works are among the finest examples of ceramic art.  Born into a family with a long tradition as potters. At the age of nine, after the death of his father, he worked in his family's pottery works. 
Winckelmann, J. J.: Johann Joachim Winckelmann was a German art historian and archaeologist who, in initiating the "Greek revival," deeply influenced the rise of the Neoclassical movement during the late eighteenth century. He was the founder of modern scientific archaeology and first applied the categories of style systematically to the history of art, moving away from the biographical approach.

© 2004 J. Paul Getty Trust

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