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Baccarat: In 1764, King Louis XV of France authorized the Bishop of Metz, Louis de Montmorency-Laval, to establish a glassworks, originally named "Saint-Anne glassworks," in the village of Baccarat situated in the Lorraine region on the banks of the Meurthe River. Early production consisted of window panes, mirrors and stemware until 1816 when the first crystal oven went into operation and the company was renamed "Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat." The first royal commission was granted to Baccarat in 1823.
ball and claw foot: A furniture foot cut to imitate a talon or claw grasping a ball. Of Chinese origin, the motif was greatly used in 18th century English furniture.
baluster: A turned, vase shaped vertical post supporting the rail of a staircase, balcony or splat of a chair.
banding: Strip of veneer used as a border for table tops, drawer fronts, etc.
banneton: French baguette basket used in boulangeries throughout France. Usually made from willow. Provided structure for sourdough breads and wicked moisture from the crust during proofing. Typically have a linen lining sewn with twine that prevented the dough from sticking to the sides. The cloth was often left unwashed to let the yeast and flour collect, aiding in the proofing process. After the dough had risen, it was removed from the basket to bake and then put back in the basket to cool. French bakers used these baskets until they were literally ready to fall apart, so many of the antique ones have a heavily worn appearance.
barbotine: French majolica. Earthenware having an opaque glaze of tin oxide and usually highly decorated.
barley twist: A turned furniture leg or column that resembles a screw thread. The French refer to the twisted column as a torsade.
Baroque: An elaborately ornamented style that originated in Italy during the late 16th century and spread throughout Europe. It was refined during the reign of France's Louis XIV (1638 - 1715). Characterized by over scaled, bold details and sweeping curves, the Baroque style favored flamboyant carving, painting and gilding. Typical motifs included acanthus, shells and elaborate scrolls.
bas d'armoire: Literally, " low armoire." A low wardrobe used for storing clothes. Because there are two doors and no drawers this cabinet is known as a low armoire as opposed to a buffet that includes drawers.
bas-relief: Sculpture in which the carved decoration projects outward from the solid flat background.
bassette: A French term meaning "low armoire."
Belle Époque: Period between 1871 and 1914 in France, characterized by marked advances and productivity in the arts, literature, and technology. Literally, "the beautiful epoch."
bergère: Literally, "shepehrdess." A large, comfortable 18th century French armchair, first made in the Louis XV style, circa 1725. Earliest forms were caned and later ones upholstered from the arm to the seat. Closed arms, a wide seat and concave back with a straight or cabriole leg define the bergère style. Usually large in size and upholstered with a loose cushion and low back that glides down and forward to form the arms. Known as “burjairs” or “barjairs” in 18th century England.
bergère à la reine: One of a pair or part of a set.
bergère à oreilles: Literally, "with ears." The upholstered "ears" or "wings" shielded the face from fireplace heat or from drafts. Also referred to as bergère confessionale, as if the occupant were hidden from view, as in a confessional.
bergère corbeille: A basket shaped chair.
bevel: The angle or edge that one surface makes with another when they are cut at a slant. Most often referred to in reference to mirrors.
bibliothèque: From the French word for library. A piece of furniture with glass-fronted doors and several shallow shelves designed to hold books.
Biedermeier: A style of furniture inspired by French Empire and German painted peasant work. Produced in Austria, Germany, Sweden and Russia between 1815 and 1848, featuring clean, straight lines with smooth curves. Light golden wood veneers trimmed with ebony accents with little or no ornament were used. The name Biedermeier was based on the caricature “Papa Biedermeier,” a comic symbol of the unsophisticated middle class. He expounded his conventional political views and was the essence of the happy, solid ordinary citizen.
bisque: Unglazed, fired porcelain with a characteristic delicate matte finish used for figurines and objects for the table.
bistro: A small modest European style restaurant or café.
blackamoor: A representation of an African figure, typically male with a turban covering his head and wearing beautiful and exotic clothing. The sculptures are most often fashioned as lamps, torchères and candelabras or as tables and stands.
Black Forest: Decorative, carved wood pieces, often humorous or whimsical, that originated in the town of Brienz, Switzerland around 1820. Most often identified by its use of carved bears, deer, birds and other creatures of the forest.
bobèche: A glass ring placed at the base of a candle to gather wax or dangle crystals.
bois doré: Ornamental coating of gold leaf or gold dust over wood.
boiserie: Sculptured paneling created for the walls of the finest French palaces and grand rooms throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
bombé: French term for the outwardly curving shape of a piece of furniture, often a bombé chest. Literally, "blown out."
bonheur du jour: A small, light lady's writing desk first made in France in the 1760s. It is always very light and graceful since it often did not stand against the wall but was moved about the room. Usually with a central drawer in front, tiered shelves and cupboards in back and sometimes a shelf between the legs. Literally, "daytime delight."
bonnetière: A tall, narrow French cabinet with a single door, used to store the elaborate, high bonnets worn by ladies in the Normandy and Brittany regions during the 17th and 18th centuries.
bonnet top: A type of pediment ornamenting the top of a piece of tall case furniture that forms an unbroken, complete circle — like a bonnet framing a lady's face.
book match: Two adjacent sheets of veneer that are opened like a book and glued side by side to produce a symmetrical pattern.
boudeuse: A sofa or settee, usually upholstered, having two seats with a common backrest between them.
bouillotte: An 18th century gambling card game that was so popular in France that a special table and lamp were created for play. Based on Brelan, it is regarded as one of the games that influenced open-card stud variation in poker.
bouillotte lamp: An 18th century French table lamp, having two or three adjustable candle brackets and a common shade sliding on a central shaft. Often used to light the writing surface of a bureau plat, It was said that a bouillotte lamp sat on every important Minister's desk.
bouillotte table: A small, round French table of the 18th century, having around its top a gallery, often bronze or brass, within which a felt-like cover could be set to play card games.
Boulle work: An elaborate type of marquetry using tortoiseshell and metal, usually brass, introduced by André-Charles Boulle in 17th century France during the reign of Louis XIV.
bracket foot: A foot extending from each side of a corner to a center point at the base. Often shaped or carved.
breakfront: A piece of furniture, such as a bookcase, cabinet or commode with a central section that projects beyond the sections on either side.
brèche d'alep marble: In France the main marble quarries are in the Pyrenees, Brittany, Flanders and the Jura, each one having different characteristics. The frequently used brèches or "breccia" are composed of fragments of rocks of several different colors: the brèche d'alep (Sarcolin quarry in the Pyrenees) has a yellow background and brown, reddish, grey and black fragments.
Breton: Highly distinctive furniture style, often made of heavy, dark oak. Heavily carved, with human figures and faces, animals, plants and ships wheels. Fretwork is a notable feature and geometric shapes dominate, Maritime motifs are also common, reflecting Brittany's close association with the sea. Armoires are often shorter than other styles and many come as bedroom sets with matching beds and pot cupboards.
bronze doré: Gilded metal, especially cast brass or bronze gilded over fire with an amalgam of gold and mercury. Used for furniture mounts and ornamental objects. Also known as ormolu.
buffet: The buffet began as an open stack of shelves, the number of which demonstrated the owner's social status as a means of exhibiting wealth. The style evolved into a useful serving piece with a shelved storage area enclosed by two doors. Drawers are sometimes included in the design, placed between the doors and surface top. Dating back to the Middle Ages, there are many varieties or styles.
buffet á glissant: A buffet which has a smaller, recessed compartment, known as a tabernacle, that sits atop the lower buffet. The defining feature of a buffet á glissant is that the tabernacle has doors that slide out to open, and in to shut. Literally, "sliding." Typically, a Provençal piece.
buffet d'appui: A gentleman's buffet. A taller buffet that men could lean upon and have a drink. Literally, "tall buffet."
buffet de chasse: A buffet table with a marble top which was typically used to prepare game. Literally means “hunting table."
buffet deux corps: A two-tiered French buffet with a shallow upper cabinet sitting on the lower buffet. The doors on the top panel can have wood or glass panels. Literally, "buffet two bodies."
bun foot: Round, turned and sometimes "squashed" foot on a piece of furniture. Common, decorative element on cabinetry during the reign of Louis XIII.
bureau plat: Flat writing table or desk usually having several drawers. Introduced at the end of the seventeenth century.
bureau à cylindre: A roll top desk.
burl: A tree knot or protruding growth that shows up as a pattern in the grain when sliced. Burl wood is very common in walnut and highly prized for furniture design because the grain exhibits spectacular mottled or speckled patterns that are used to create the beautiful veneers found in formal and provincial furniture. Usually available in smallish sheets, burls feature swirling grain around clusters of dormant buds, rings or eyes. Varieties include "cluster burl" or "cat's paw burl."
Ball and Claw Foot
Louis XV Bergère Corbeille
Louis XV Bibliothèque
Book Match Front
Louis Philippe Commode
Buffet de Chasse