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tabouret: The French name for upholstered footstools or benches.
tambour: Thin strips of wood glued to canvas backing to form a flexible sheet used to conceal storage areas, for example in the lid of a bureau a cylindre.
tantalus: A cellarette with decanters tucked inside, their contents visible but not obtainable without a key. The name derived from the Greek myth of Tantalos, son of Zeus and King of Lydia. Tantalos was admitted to the society of the gods, but his abominable behavior aroused their anger leading Zeus to condemn him to suffer eternally in Tartarus. As punishment, Tantalos was forced to stand neck-deep in water, which receded from him when he would attempt to drink. Over his head hung the bough of a fruit tree that the wind wafted away whenever he tried to grasp them. It is from his name that the word tantalize also originated.
tapestry: A heavy, hand-woven fabric panel, often used as a wall decoration. Aubusson weavers are renowned for their fine tapestries.
tea caddy: A decorative box created for storing tea leaves, many with two compartments — one for black tea and the other for green tea. Some of the finest tea caddies created in England were crafted of exotic woods and adorned with tortoise shell, ivory, and mother-of-pearl.
term: A vertical pedestal that is tapered towards the bottom surmounted by a bust or figure.
terra cotta: Hard-baked pottery used in decorative arts and as a building material, usually of a red-brown clay, but may be colored with paint or baked glaze.
terre de fer: Faïence or earthenware with iron content.
tête-à-tète: Small two-seat sofa of the 19th century in which two seats face in opposite directions forming an S-curve. Also referred to as a confident.
tied stretcher: An X-shaped stretcher form consisting of curvy stretcher rails running from table or chair legs to meet in the center; a late 17th century feature.
tin glaze: An opaque white glaze containing tin oxide used on faïence and majolica.
tilt-top table: Table with whole top hinged to a pedestal base so that it can be tipped from a horizontal to a vertical position when not in use.
tirette: A pull-out utility shelf. Literally, "pull tab."
tôle: Tinware that is usually decorated by means of japanning.
tongue-and-groove: Straight or right-angled joint made by cutting a groove into one piece of wood into which fits the projecting groove from another. Used from the 19th century onwards.
torchère: Type of floor lamp equipped with a decorative glass or metal reflector bowl designed to throw light upward.
torsade: A turned furniture leg or column that resembles a screw thread. In French design, the spiral shape known as a torsade became a major element of the Louis XIII style. The shape dates back to 333 AD when Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, brought back a pair of helix shaped columns from Jerusalem to be used in the altar of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Also known as barley twist.
tortoiseshell: Often used as an inlay or a decorative overlay on wood surfaces, tortoiseshell is a mottled, nutty brown shell material with a spotted, striped, or sometimes even speckled pattern.
toupie foot: A type of turned foot dating from the second half of the 17th century, usually associated with Louis XVI styles. Literally, "top," as in a child's toy spinning top. A rounded saucer-shaped top with larger turning in the middle that then narrows to a smaller turned end. Short and squat examples usually decorate case pieces while more slender examples are found on chairs.
trefoil: Form of Gothic ornament in the shape of three symmetrical leaves. A quatrefoil has four leaves, a cinquefoil five. Much used in the 19th century Gothic revival.
trestle table: Originally, all tables were loose boards placed across trestles or saw horses. The trestle form survived and is distinguished from the four-legged or pedestal table.
tric trac: French name for the game of backgammon.
trompe l'oeil: Literally, "tricks the eye." A type of decoration borrowed by the French from the Greeks during the 17th century. Objects painted in perspective to suggest they are three-dimensional.
trumeau: An overmantel treatment of 18th century France consisting of a pier glass surmounted by an oil painting or decorative often carved panel. These highly ornate and often gilded wall mirrors were a centerpiece for Baroque period interiors. They added a decorative element while bringing more light to the room. Before the use of trumeau mirrors, panes of glass were installed in paneled walls to add light to a room.
turning: Method of shaping wood by revolving it on a lathe. Different types of turning are created by altering the pressure of the lathe.
Louis XV Style Chevets
with Tambour Doors
French Lyre-Leg Trestle Table
Louis XVI Grand Scale