Acanthus: plant whose foliage is among the most widely used of all decorative motifs.

Arabesque: scroll of flowers and foilage arranged without concern for symmetry.

Armoire: tall cupboard or wardrobe.

Attributes: symbolic objects; often used in the eighteenth century; palm fronds are an attribute of victory, rifles and game are attributes of the hunt.



Baluster: short column swollen toward the middle and consisting of several parts: a base, a swelling, a neck, and a capital.

Bibliotheque: "library"; in furniture, bookcase.

Bureau: desk

Bureau-plat: flat-top writing table, introduced at the end of the XVII century.

Burl: abnormal excrescence on a tree that produces mottled or speckled patterns in the wood, much prized in veneers



Cartouche: escutheon-like round or oval field surrounded by an elaborate frame.

Caryatid: support shaped like a female figure.

Chiffonniere: small, high table on legs equipped with three drawers.

Column: cylinder-shaped support. Five types of ancient columns: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite.

Commode: chest of drawers, introduced towards end of XVII century.

Console: ornamental bracket with a compound curved outline; freestanding tables are consoles de milieu. A console d'applique is a console table designed to be placed against a wall.



Dentil: a rectangular cubic form, reminiscent of a tooth, aligned in rows with interveneing spaces to form "dental moldings," usually found below projecting cornices.



Ebeniste: furniture-maker specializing in luxury case furniture, usually incorporating marquetry of various kinds.

Enamel: vitreous substance, usally colored, fused to a metal surface under heat.



Fauteuil: armchair current until the mid-seventeenth century.

Floret: round, flower-like ornamental motif.

Frieze: decorative or narrative composition in a horizontal band.



Girandole: crystal pendant adorning a chandelier, wall light, candelabrum, etc.

Glaze: a vitreous coating fixed to ceramic by firing.

Gondola chair back: rounded chair back that curves forward to constitute the arms as well.



Interlace: decorative motif composed of intertwining bands.



Lacquer: a colored resin applied to objects, paneling, furniture, etc.



Medallion: a round or oval decorative element containing a motif

Molding: a long ornamental element, either projecting or recessed of continuous profile.



Palmette: decorative motif resembling a stylized palm frond.

Patterned ground: in furniture, a regular pattern, either carved or executed in marquetry.

Pediment: triangular, element surmounting the entablature.

Pied -de-biche: slender, slightly curved leg with a hoofed foot.

Pied en facade: leg aligned with the sides of the piece it supports.

Pied en oblique: turned-out leg.

Pilaster: engaged pillar or low, flat projection, often fluted.

Psyche mirror: large portrait-format mirrors set into a frame and supported by a stand with two side posts and a large base. It usually pivots along the central horizontal axis.



Rinceau: decorative motif composed of scrolling foliage.

Rosette: ornamental motif in the shape of a star or rose.



Sabot: metal "shoe" protective as well as ornamental, on the feet of a piece of furniture.

Semainier: high and narrow chest with six to eight drawers.

Servante: a kind of commode resembling a pantry table meant to be set against the wall.

Singeries: decorative motifs and/or compositions incorporating monkeys dressed as humans.



Tors: decorative motif consisting of twisted foliage, ribbon or string of pearls.

Tripod: three footed base

Trompe l'oeil: illusionistic perspective representation.

Trumeau mirror: mirror set into the woodwork between two windows or doors.



Vantail: door

Volute: spiral scroll; in furniture, often found in console motifs and terminals of various kinds.



Source: French Furniture by Sylvie Chadenet

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