Glossary

Please browse our glossary below by clicking on any letter of the alphabet to
learn about the different styles and periods of the pieces that we carry and specialize in.
   

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  Alabaster A fine-grained stone that is usually gray or white in color and is slightly translucent. Often used in sculptures and vases.
   
  Antique According to United States Customs an antique is a work of art, piece of furniture, or any decorative object that is at least one hundred years old.
     
  Armoire A tall cabinet that is used as a wardrobe.    
     
  Art Deco Popular design style during the 1920’s and 1930’s characterized by simple geometric patterns.
     
  Art Nouveau French word meaning “new art”. A design style of the late 19th century that was inspired by plant and animal forms in nature.
     
  Aubusson A woven tapestry manufactured in Aubusson, France. Aubusson fabrics are of high quality, and are of great value.
     
  Baccarat The Baccarat firm was started in 1764. In 1841 Francois-Eugene de Fontenay discovered that the addition of Nickel Oxide in the glass manufacturing process produced perfectly clear glass.
     
  Bergere An armchair that is either caned or upholstered from the arm to the seat.
     
  Beurdeley, Alfred (1847-1919) His company was known for producing the finest quality of furniture. Beurdeley exhibited at the 1878 Paris and 1883 Amsterdam International Exhibitions. He was awarded the gold medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889.
     
  Bevel The angle or edge that one surface makes with another when they are cut at a slant.
     
  Biscuit Also referred as bisque, is pottery or porcelain that has been fired once and is unglazed.
     
  Blackamoor Dark-skinned figure dressed in a colorful costume. First created in Venice these figures were carved and used as a support for tables and candleholders (torchieres).
     
  Boulle,
Andre Charles
Late 17th/ Early 18th century cabinet maker who introduced the technique of using tortoiseshell and yellow or white metal as a type of marquery in furniture.
     
  Candelabra A branched candlestick, or lamp with several lights.
     
  Cardossi, V. Born in Florence in 1861, Vittorio Caradossi is known for his sculptures in marble. He exhibited in Paris at the 1900 Exposition Universelle and in 1909 at the Salon des Artistes.
     
  Carpeaux, Jean-Baptiste (1827-1875) Considered one of the greatest masters of 19th century French sculpture. He is best known for three masterpieces; La Danse from the Opera of Paris, the decoration on the Flore pavillion at the Louvre, and La Fontaine des quatre parties du monde on the Avenue of the Observatory.
     
  Carrier-Belleusse,
Albert Ernest
(1824-1887) His works were made out of terra cotta, plaster, marble and bronze, often adding porcelain and ivory. Known for his quality of work making busts, small groups, statuettes, and portraits of contemporary or historical people.
     
  Cartel Clock Also referred to as a hanging wall clock.
     
  Cheval Mirror A full length standing mirror.
     
  Chenets Ornamental pieces placed in front of a fireplace.
     
  Chinoiserie French word that indicates a style of art or decoration reflecting oriental designs or motifs.
     
 

Chippendale,
Thomas

Renowned 18th century English cabinet maker. Gothic, Chinese and French rococo styles influenced his work.
     
  Cloisonné Style and technique used to apply enamel on metal objects.
     
  Commode French term to describe a low chest of draws. Since 19th century a commode is generally considered a bedroom piece.
     
  Console A table that can be attached to a wall having two front legs or may be free standing against the wall.
     
  Coramandel A very hard wood found on the south east coast of India. The French often carved decorative oriental scenes into this wood.
     
  Cressent, Charles (1685-1768) 18th century cabinet maker who is best known for the bronze sculpture decorations he added to his pieces of furniture. Cressent is also considered "The Cabinet Maker" whose work is most representative of the Regence style.
     
  Dasson,
Henry
(1825-1896) Important furniture maker using the very finest ormolu mounts with high quality mercurial gilding. Specialized in copies of eighteenth century models, manly in the Louis XVI style. Exhibited Louis XV, XVI pieces of his own modified eighteenth century design at the 1878 Paris Exhibition. Dasson closed down his business in 1894.
     
  Debut, Marcel (1865-1933) Began exhibiting Bronze and Biscuit figures in1883.
     
  Durand Made 'ebeniste du roi' in 1839 and exhibited at Industrial Products Exhibitions in 1834,1839, and 1844, as well as the Paris Exhibition of 1855.
     
  Ebeniste French term meaning “cabinet maker”.
     
  Empire Style A style first introduced during the reign of Napoleon in the early 19th century and greatly influenced by Egyptian Art.
     
  Enamel A colored glaze of decorate metal inlayed to a ceramic surface. Enamel fuses with porcelain under a low fire and as it cools becomes hard and permanent .
     
  Erard Considered one of France’s finest piano works company.
     
  Gesso A paste prepared with glue (Plaster of Pairs) , spread upon a surface to fit it for painting or gilding.
     
  Gilt Bronze A thin layer of gold applied on bronze.
     
  Giltwood A thin layer of gold leaf or gold foil applied on wood.
     
  Griotte Uni A predominantly red colored marble that was found in Pyrenees, France.
     
  Inlay A technique used with furniture and ceramics when part of a surface is removed and replaced with a contrasting material.
     
  Kingwood Fine quality of wood found in Brazil that is used in furniture because of its beautiful violet color markings.
     
  Leroux,
Gaston
(1854-1942) Exhibited at the Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1892.
     
  Linke,
Francois
Francois Linke was born in Pankraz in Bohemia and was celebrated by the French as one of the greatest ébénistes of meubles de style at the turn of the century. He began his apprenticeship with a Bohemian master at the age of thirteen. Four years later, he toured Austria, settling and working in Vienna for two years. By 1875 he had arrived in Paris, where he seems to have been associated with Zwiener. By 1881, Linke established his own small workshop at 170 rue du Faubourg St. Antoine. Taking 18th century styles as his starting point and adapting earlier styles to contemporary taste, Linke produced fine quality furniture, steadily expanding his business during the next 20 years. He firmly established his reputation after receiving a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900 for his extraordinary Grand Bureau. He continued to use international fairs as a means of exploring new markets, exhibiting at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, the Liege in Belgium and the 1908 Franco-British exhibition in London. Linke's highly original designs sprang from the Régence and Rococo styles but were imbued with something quite new - Rococo curves were laden with gilt-bronze sculptural mounts in the tradition of A.-C. Boulle (1642-1732) or Charles Cressent (1685-1758). Stylistically, the new designs still adhered to the Rococo; the novelty, however, was Linke's fusion of the Rococo with the liveliness and the fluidity of the 'art nouveau'. The Revue called Linke's creations entierement nouveau, and continued to say that 'Linke's stand is the biggest show in the history of art furniture in the year 1900...' The mounts, or rather sculpture, were characteristic of the finest pieces from the Linke workshops. The most original designs were almost certainly created in collaboration with the enigmatic sculptor Léon Messagé, who excelled in creating lively, high relief, allegorical figures recalling the styles of Boucher and Falconet. Linke's greatest successes were achieved during the years after 1900 and up to the beginning of World War I. He opened a showroom in the fashionable Place Vendôme and business flourished until World War II, although the popularity of the ancien régime styles already started to decline. Linke died at the venerable age of 91.
     
  Louis XV Style (1715-1774) Style of furniture and objects of art characteristic during the reign of French King Louis XV. The style is easily recognized by the carved cabriole legs used to support furniture. This style was essentially Rococo with soft curing lines, shell and flower ornamentation.
     
  Louis XVI Style (1774-1793) Style of furniture and objects of art characteristic during the reign of French King Louis XVI.
     
  Majolica Italian 19th century earthenware modeled in naturalistic shapes and glazed in lively lead colors.
     
  Marquetry The term used to describe the decorative work in which a pattern or patterns are formed by inserting contrasting material in a veneered surface.
     
  Meissen Considered the finest porcelain made in Germany. The factory in the small town of Meissen has been producing ornamental and tableware ceramics since 1715.
     
  Millet,
Maison
Founded in 1853 by T. Millet and continued doing business until 1918. Known for their fine quality copies of 18th century models. Awarded a gold medal in the 1889 Exposition .
     
  Moreau, H. Hippolyte Francois Moreau (1832-1927). First exhibited his works in 1859. The best of his works were of young woman and charming full figures of children.
     
  Onyx A translucent quartz with a wax like luster.
     
  Ormolu French term refers to gilded bronze used for decorative purposes. Terms such as gilt-bronze and dore bronze may be substituted.
     
  Parlor Set Also referred as Salon Set. Term to describe a settee with matching chairs used primarily in a living room, den, or library.
     
  Parquetry Inlay of wood in a geometric pattern or design.
     
  Picault, E. Emile Louis Picault (1833-1915) His works began appearing in shops in 1863. Many of his sculptures were of warriors, figures exalting patriotic virtue, allegories, and some historical and mythological personages.
     
  Plafonier French term to describe a lighting fixture that attaches directly to a ceiling.
     
  Porcelain A hard, fine grained nonporous translucent white ceramic ware of kaolin,quartz and feldspar that is fired at high temperatures.
     
  Raulin,
Victor
Raulin exhibited and received silver medals at both the 1878 and 1889 Expositions Universelles He is particularly well known for his furniture in the eighteenth century style and the use of lacquer panels.
     
  Regence French Regence is a transitional style between Louis XIV and Louis XV style. This style is characterized by a cabriole leg and massive mounts.
     
  Richer,
Paul
(1849-1933) Life size bronze sculpture “Le Premier Artiste” is found in the Jardin des Plantes, and a stone statue of Doctor Vulpian is located on the Rue Antoine-Dubois in Paris.
     
  Riesener,
Jean Henri
(1734-1806) Best known for the 'Bureau du Roi' 1769. His clients included Mme de Pompadour, and in 1774 he became 'ebeniste du roi'.
     
  Rococo Relating to a style of the mid 18th century that was characterized by asymmetric curves and heavy carved ornamentation.
     
  Schmidt, Fredrick Although not as well known as some other nineteenth century furniture makers, he produced pieces of furniture of outstanding quality and design. Schimdt received gold medals at both the 1878 and 1889 Paris Expositions Universelles.
     
  Sconce A lighting fixture with a one or more branches that is attached to a wall.
     
  Sevre Porcelain The first factory opened in the town of Sevre in 1756. During the 19th century, due to the popularity of the Sevre Porcelain, many other factories throughout France began making 'Sevre Style' porcelain.
     
  Sormani,
Paul
Born in Venice, Paul Sormani set up in Paris by the middle of 19th century. He specialized in creating furniture and works of art mainly in Louis XV and Louis XVI styles. He exhibited at many Expositions Universelles, among which Paris in 1855 where he was awarded a first class medal, London in 1862 where he received another medal and in Paris in 1867. Everyone agreed that his creations revealed the highest standards of quality ; during the 1867 Universal Exhibition the catalogue described his work as follows : "toute sa production révèle une qualité d'exécution de tout premier ordre". In 1867, he moved to 10, rue Charlot, where he met a great success until his death in 1877. His wife and son took over the business and later moved it to 134, Boulevard Haussmann. From this date onwards pieces are normally signed "Veuve Sormani & Fils". The Sormani mark is either stamped on the wood or engraved on the lock-plate.
     
  Steinway Most renowned and respected piano works company.
     
  Tapestry Heavy, hand-woven textile in which designs are printed.
     
  Tortoiseshell Pieces of the shell of a Hawksbill sea turtle used for furniture inlays.
     
  Vernis Martin Style In the early 18th century, brothers obtained patent for French imitation of oriental lacquer in furniture. Term denotes pictorial lacquer applied in numerous successive coats on pieces of furniture.
     
  Vitrine A glass showcase used to display a collection of fine small objects of art.
     
  Zwiener, Joseph Born in Herdon, Germany, in 1849, Joseph Emmanuel Zwiener followed the tradition of some of the best ébnistes of the nineteenth century. He moved to Paris establishing a workshop at 12, rue de la Roquette, between 1880 and 1895. He produced a wide array of the very finest furniture, modelling in his own interpretations of the eighteenth century Louis XV Rococo style, veneered with the highest and finest quality marquetry and 'Vernis Martin' panels. Exhibiting at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, in 1889, Zwiener was awarded a gold medal for what the jury reported as 'dè ses dèbuts à une Exposition Universelle, [il] s'est mi au premier rang par la richesse, la hardinesse, et le fini de ses meubles incrustés de bronze et fort habilment marquetés.' A Group of furniture by Zwiener commissioned by Freidrich Wilhelm II of Prussia and exhibited at the Exposition Universelle, Paris in 1900, was sold at Sotheby's New York June 29th, 1989, lot 270-275.
Zwiener was closely associated with François Linke, and the two houses produced work which, at first glance, is remarkably similar and with occasionally identical mounts. The similarities are made more likely by the fact that the brilliant sculptor, Léon Messagé, worked initially for Zwiener and subsequently, upon Zwiener's departure for Berlin to work on furniture commissioned by Freidrich Wilhelm II , he was employed in the workshop of François Linke. It appears that Zwiener, unlike Linke, did not sign all his work, although some stamped pieces with his name and/or his "Z" initial are documented. There is some uncertainty between the recorded stamp E. Zwiener and the work of a Julius Zwiener, a Berlin cabinetmaker who made furniture in a very similar style, most notably for the above mentioned Freidrich Wilhelm II. Research suggests however, that the German born Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener, based in Paris from 1880-1895 and Julius Zwiener, recorded in Berlin after 1895, are probably one and the same. Since the eighteenth century, it had been a common practice for foreign cabinetmakers to gallicise their names whenever they worked in France.