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gadroon: A decorative motif consisting of convex curves in a series. In furniture, the term is applied to an ornamental carved band of tapered, curving, and sometimes alternating concave and convex sections. Often has rounded ends resembling flower petals. Widely used as molding and as the edge of a pedestal or tabletop.
galettte: Consisting of carved concentric circles, characteristic of decoration from Brittany region. Commonly used during the reign of Louis XIII.
gallery: The ornamental metal or wood railing around the edge of a table or desk.
garde manger: French for "keeper of the food." Originally, a designated area of the kitchen or house that was used to store food items that needed to be cooled.
gargoyle: Grotesque figure originally used in Gothic architecture to frighten away evil spirits and as a decorative spout. Best know in the Gothic examples; it was adapted for ornamentation in some Medieval and Renaissance woodwork.
gauffrage: Literally, "to emboss." A French technique of embossing a plain textile with a hot pressure cylinder. The heat melts the pattern into the textile.
gesso: A traditional mix of an animal glue binder (usually rabbit skin glue), marble dust, or chalk and gypsum that is commonly applied to furniture, picture frames, and mirrors to provide a smooth surface for gilding or delicate carving.
Gien: A French city known for its production of decorative faïence.
gilded: Covered in gold leaf. (c.f. gilding, gilt)
gilding: The decoration of an object with a thin layer of gold, gold leaf, or gold foil. (c.f. gilded, gilt)
gilt: Covered in gold leaf. (c.f. gilded, gilding)
girandole: Elaborate candelabrum with crystal pendants from the Rococo and Neoclassical periods. Also refers to heavily carved or glided sconces or wall brackets with mirrored backplates to reflect the candlelight.
gondola chair back: Rounded chair back that curves forward to constitute the arms as well.
Gothic Period (1100-1500): French style taking significant influence from the Medieval church architecture, characterized by segmented arches (pointed), flying buttresses, open tracery and vertical grandiose emphasis. Gothic style originated in northern France and spread throughout Europe, becoming the first French style to dominate Europe. Gothic architecture demanded major financial resources and the best artistic talent medieval society had to offer. The term Gothic was coined by classicizing Italian writers of the Renaissance, who attributed the invention (and what to them was the non-classical ugliness) of medieval architecture to the barbarian Gothic tribes that had destroyed the Roman Empire and its classical culture in 5th century AD.
griffin/griffon/gryphon: A legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle, and an eagle's talons as its front feet. Because the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle the king of birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. It is often thought to have been a protective symbol, representing strength and vigilance. Occurs as a decorative motif in architecture and furniture during the Italian Renaissance and beyond.
grisaille: A monochrome painting and drawing technique executed in tones of black, gray and white, which attempts to imitate marble relief ornament on trompe l'oeil panels. Grisaille was prized for interior decoration in the 17th century.
gros point: A large, coarse French embroidery stitch used for upholstering chairs. Literally, "large point."
grotesque: A style of painting, sculpture, and ornamentation characterized by fanciful or fantastic human and animal forms often interwoven with foliage or similar figures that may distort the natural into absurdity, ugliness, or caricature. Literally, "cave paintng," referring to the grottoes in which these decorations were found during the excavation of Roman houses such as the Golden House of Nero. First revived in the Renaissance by the school of Raphael in Rome, the grotesque quickly came into fashion in 16th century Italy and became popular throughout Europe.
guéridon: A small round table or pedestal dating from the 17th and early 18th centuries. Originally used to support candelabras.
guilloché: Classical decorative motif forming a continuous intersecting scrolling pattern often accompanied with rosette details. A pattern (as on metalwork) made by interlacing curved lines. Often a pattern of interlocking ribbons.