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Academy

Two of the most significant and powerful of these professional art associations were established in France and England in the 17th and 18th centuries respectively, instructing artists as well as providing exhibition opportunities. These institutions had a virtual monopoly on public taste and official patronage and were essential to a successful career as a professional artist in Europe.

Amazonomachy

A work of art depicting a battle between the Greeks and the Amazons.

Aquatint

An ink print made from a metal plate that has been covered with ground resin and then corroded by acid. The plate is selectively treated with varnish resist. Next the ground resin is applied. When heated, the specks of aquatint ground melt and merge randomly, adhering to the plate. Acid corrodes the plate exposed between the resin. The resulting print resembles an ink or wash drawing.

Baroque

The term used to describe European art of the 17th century and early 18th century, most appropriately applied to Italian art of the period. As a stylistic term, Baroque connotes drama, theatricality, arrested motion, elaborate ornamentation, strong contrasts of light and dark, and an interest in realism that engage the viewer.

Drypoint

An ink print made from a metal plate that has been lightly scratched with a needle or stylus. The small ridge of metal, or burr, that is pushed up on the sides of the scored line by the pointed instrument holds the ink to make the print.

Engraving

An ink print made from a metal plate that has been incised with a specialized cutting tool.

Etching

An ink print made from a metal plate that has been corroded by acid. The plate is first covered with a layer of wax or varnish. The artist draws through this surface with a special needle tool to expose the metal. Then the plate is immersed in acid, which acts upon the exposed metal lines.

Expressionism

A 20th-century art movement originating in Germany that emphasized the artist's unique inner visions and emotions. Expressionist artists often employed spatial distortion and exaggeration of form and color.

Genre

Art that depicts everyday life. Genre art was considered by the royal academies of art to be inferior to history painting

Gouache

A water-based paint medium in which the colored pigment is mixed with a binding agent (usually gum arabic) and a white pigment or other white substance such as chalk. The result is an opaque, matte finish. Also known as bodycolor.

Guild

An association of craftsmen that regulated the training, production standards, and income levels of its members. Guilds originated in the medieval period.

History painting

Art that portrays human figures enacting a literary, historical, or mythological scene. This was considered by the royal academies of art to be the highest form of art, compared to genre painting.

Impressionism

An art movement originating in France in the late 19th century that sought to capture a fleeting moment and to communicate the sensations of light and movement rather than to reproduce the details of a scene.

Lithograph

An ink print made from a stone surface. The lithographer draws a design on the stone using a grease-based medium. The stone is then treated with chemicals to increase the bond between the grease and the stone. Water is then applied. The water soaks into the ungreased portions of the stone but is repelled by the grease. The stone is then rolled with ink, which adheres to the grease but not to the wet portions of the stone.

Mannerism

A style of art during the late Renaissance that prevailed in Europe during the 16th century. Mannerist art is often seen as a rebellion against the High Renaissance masters like Michelangelo and Raphael and is characterized by artifice, contrived imagery, and subjective departures from the classical values of order, stability and symmetry.

Masque

A form of drama performed at the king's court by masked actors in 16th-century and 17th-century England. Masques presented allegorical themes and featured elaborate costumes, sets, and scenery.

Medici

Wealthy family of merchants that essentially controlled Florence culturally and politically from the 15th century to the mid-1700s. During the Renaissance, Florence became one of the most important cultural cities in Italy, due in part to their patronage of the arts.

Metope

An architectural term for the square, sunken panels in a Doric frieze.

Monotype

An ink print made from a surface which has been painted or drawn with ink. Unlike other printing methods, this process only produces a single impression.

Naïve

This is art created by self-taught artists and often characterized by a childlike quality. (Also sometimes known as Primitive, but not to be confused with Primitivism.)

Neoclassicism

A style of art that emerged in Europe and North America in the late 18th century. Artists sought to revive the artistic aesthetic and subject matter of ancient Greece and Rome.

Peinture à la colle

A water-based paint medium mixed with glue. It dries fast and builds up layers in the painting. Also known as distemper.

Pre-Raphaelitism

A style of art adopted by a group of painters in mid-19th-century England. Attempting to reform art, the Pre-Raphaelites embraced the medieval subjects and realism that were characteristic of art prior to the High Renaissance style.

Primitivism

A philosophy of art that seeks to emulate the subjects and forms of African and Oceanic art. Especially popular with early 20th-century European artists.

Realism

An art movement that emerged in mid-19th-century France that was characterized by the objective portrayal of ordinary, everyday themes.

Renaissance

European art movement spanning from 1300 to 1600. Renaissance art is characterized by a humanistic naturalism rooted in classical aesthetics. The treatment of human subjects evolved during the Renaissance period. Naturalistic depictions evolved into idealizations, which eventually led to subjective distortions of the human figure.

Rococo

A style of art predominant in Europe in the 18th century. Rococo art and architectural decoration initially developed in Paris as the art of the aristocracy and is noted for being playful and informal, yet elegant.

Romanticism

An art movement in the Western world during the late 18th century and early 19th century that emphasized intuition and individuality. Romantic artists sought to evoke sensuousness or to spiritually inspire the viewer.

Salon

The Salon was the official and exclusive public art exhibition in 18th-century Paris. It began in 1737 as an exhibition of works by members of the Académie Royale. In 1795 it was opened to everyone. Eventually it was criticized for not being receptive to the avant-garde.

Softground etching

An ink print made from a metal plate that is treated with a soft wax and tallow ground. The artist places a sheet of paper over the ground and draws on it. Bits of ground adhere to the paper when it is then lifted. Then the plate is immersed in acid, which acts upon the metal exposed where the ground has been lifted away. The resulting print has a broken, crayon-like appearance.

Surimono

Popular in the late 18th century and early 19th century, surimono were small-format Japanese woodcut prints commissioned in limited runs for special occasions (unlike the widely distributed ukiyoe). Surimono usually combined image and poetry. Some surimono were commissioned by individual poets or issued by poetry societies.

Symbolism

An international movement in art, music, and literature that emerged in the late 19th century. Symbolist artists rejected the assumption that art should represent the natural world. They instead sought to express underlying ideas. This was often achieved through broad brushstrokes of unmodulated color, simplified forms, and abstract space.

Triptych

A picture composed of three separate parts (left, center, and right). Often the center portion is dominant and may be larger than the flanking pieces.

Ukiyoe

Literally translated as "pictures of the floating world," Japanese ukiyoe woodcut prints typically depict kabuki theater actors and/or the courtesans of Edo (i.e. Tokyo). Popular during the Edo Period (1600-1868).

Woodcut

An ink print made from a carved wooden plank. The artist draws the design onto the wood. Then the wood is cut away using special tools so that the raised lines of the drawing remain.