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pad foot: Club foot resting on an integral disc.
pad molding: In architecture, furniture, and decorative objects, a surface or group of surfaces of projecting or receding contours. A molding may serve as a defining element, terminating a unit or an entire composition (e.g., in the cap of a column or the crowning cornice of a building) or establishing a boundary or transition between portions of a design.
palette: The group of colors used in a particular style or by a particular factory or decorator.
palmette: A fan shaped decorative Neoclassical motif resembling a stylized palm frond often used along with the anthemion detail. The fronds of a palmette are flat or curl outward.
panetière: Provençal piece of furniture, originally from Arles, that was used to store bread. Characteristics are carved spindles across the front and sides and finely carved detailing, reminiscent of the Provencal region. Carved with four legs, however, it's intended to be hung on a wall or placed on top of a pétrin as an effective method to keep rodents away from breads and perishables.
panier: A basket, especially a large one, for carrying goods, provisions, etc.
papier-mâché: Technique using sand, chalk and paper pulp molded while wet into decorative forms and furniture. Popular during the Napoleon III period.
paravent: Folding screen.
parcel gilt: Selective gilding on only portions or specific decorative elements.
parquetry: Furniture veneering in a decorative, geometric pattern.
partner's desk: Desk large enough to set two people facing each other with working drawers on both sides. Known as le bureau de partenaire.
pastiglia: Gesso (plaster) that was dripped on furniture in layers and then carved and gilded in bas-relief in the Italian Renaissance period. Often used for decorating tiny caskets, it was much too fragile for use on larger items.
patera: Ornamental detail in the shape of a circle or oval, often with acanthus leave or segmented pattern detail.
patina: The effect produced on the surface of antique furniture and objects due to wear, exposure, natural aging and hand-rubbing.
patination: The change of color, usually greenish, of a metal surface like copper or bronze due to a chemical reaction between the metal and its environment. A patina can be created naturally or artificially.
patterned ground: In furniture, a regular pattern either carved or executed in marquetry.
pedestal: Tall, narrow base which supports a statue, lamp, vase or any decorative object. Usually treated with moldings at the top and a base block on the bottom. Without moldings it is called a plinth.
pedestal table: A table supported on a single column or pillar.
pediment: An element in Classical, Neoclassical and Baroque architecture consisting of a gable, originally of a triangular shape, placed above the horizontal structure of the entablature, typically supported by columns. The triangular area within the pediment was often decorated with relief sculpture depicting scenes from Greek and Roman mythology or allegorical figures. Can have segmental, scroll and broken forms.
period antique furniture: Furniture of distinctly recognizable style that was actually made during the period in history. For example, Louis XV period furniture had to be made during his reign between 1723 and 1774. All pieces made between 1744 and 1751 must be signed and stamped with the Masters stamp of the Guild of Cabinet Makers. Period furniture holds the most value to collectors.
petit-point Small-stitch embroidery, which is worked on a single thread net, covering the entire surface. Term usually applies when there are more than 256 stitches to the square inch.
pétrin: Coffer type piece of furniture on four legs with top that lifts up or off. Was used to store flour or to put dough inside to rise.
pewter: Alloy of tin and lead which has a dull gray appearance and is used for the making of tableware and ornaments. Originally intended as a substitute for silver, but its value diminished in the 17th century with the advent of chinaware for everyday use.
pie-crust table: A small, round table having a top with its edge carved or molded in scallops. Common in 18th-century English furniture.
pied de biche: Deer foot, typically found at the base of a cabriole leg in Régence and Louis XV furniture. A termination to a leg, consisting of a slight outward curve ending in the semblance of a cloven hoof. Literally, "doe's foot." (c.f. pied de sabot)
pied de sabot: Hoof foot, typically found at the base of a cabriole leg in Regence and Louis XV furniture. (c.f. pied de biche)
pied en façade: A leg aligned with the sides of the piece it supports.
pied en oblique: A turned out leg on furniture.
pierced carving: Openwork carving used in the Gothic, Baroque and Rococo periods.
pier glass: Tall, narrow framed mirror originally placed between two windows to enhance light coming into a room. Often an accompaniment to a low table or console.
pietre dure: Decorative work using inlaid, semi-precious stones to depict scenes, geometric patterns, floral motifs, etc. This technique was used to decorate furniture, cameos, vases and decorative panels.
pilaster: Architectural term for a flattened column attached to a facade for decoration rather than structural support.
pine: Wood that is uniform in texture but sometimes strongly marked with annual rings. It dries easily and does not shrink or swell greatly with changes in moisture content.
plafonier: French term to describe a lighting fixture that attaches directly flush to the ceiling.
poinçon: Punched silver hallmarks on French silver.
polychrome: The application of layers of color to provide exceptional depth to works of art. Decoration using three or more colors.
poplar: Even-textured and straight-grained wood, it is available in lumber as well as in thin stock suitable for cross-banding and face veneers.
porcelain: Translucent white ceramic body made from kaolin and petuntse (hard-paste) or another ingredient that induces translucency (soft-paste) fired at high temperatures. Important French centers for porcelain are Meissen, Sevres, Limoges and Rouen.
poudreuse: A small French dressing table, usually with a folding mirror and side leaves with compartments for cosmetics. Originating in the Louis XV period. (c.f. coiffeuse)
portemanteau: Coat and hat rack or hall tree. Literally, "holds coats."
porte-parapluies: Umbrella stand. Literally, "holds umbrellas."
pot de confit: Glazed earthenware pot used to store goose or duck meat in fat for preparing a confit. Literally, "confit pot."
pottery: Generic term for all ceramic wares except for porcelain.
prie-dieu: A low seated, armless chair with a high back and wide top rail on which to rest a prayer book. Used as a kneeler for prayer. Literally, "prays God."
psyche mirror: A large portrait format mirror 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.
Provençal: Basically means something that comes (literally or figuratively) from Provence. The term Provençal is also used to refer to the dialect of the Occitan language that was widely spoken in Provence until the early 20th century (and is still spoken there, though much less extensively, today).
provincial: Styles labeled as provincial refer to work done any place in France that is outside of Paris or away from and after the inspiration of the style leaders in the city capitals. There is a time lag and often elements of style, once accepted, persist long after the original impetus has stopped. In Paris, the styles spread gradually through the lesser nobility of the French provinces.
putti/putto: Commonly used to describe decorative motifs of cupids, cherubs or children in furniture, paintings or sculpture.
Louis XVI Partner's Desk
Antique French Oyster Baskets
Louis XV Side Table with Pied de Biche
Art Deco Mirrored Poudreuse
Louis XV Portemanteau