Art Glossary - Terms Used In Italian Artists & Architects Bios List

"Art Glossary - Terms Used In Italian Artists & Architects Bios List" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Wednesday 27th April 2011

Given As Alphabetical Order


a.C.= after Christ
acqua= water
aisle= passageway separating seating areas in a theatre, church, etc.; lateral division in a church flanking the nave or chancel
albergo= hotel
Alps= a mountain range in southern central Europe, extending over 1000km (650 miles) from the Mediterranean coast of France and northwestern Italy through Switzerland, northern Italy, and Austria to Slovenia. Highest peak: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco), 4807 m (15 771 ft.)
amore= love
Angevin= 1. a member of the Plantagenet royal line descended from Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, esp. one of the kings of England from Henry II to John 91154-1216); 2. relating to the Plantagenet kings of England between 1154 and 1216
antico= ancient, old
Apennines= a mountain range in Italy, extending over 1250 km (800 miles) from the northwest to the southernmost tip of the peninsula, Highest peak: Monte Corno, 2912 m (9554 ft.)
apse= domed or vaulted semicircular orpolygonal recess, esp. at the east end of a church
aqueduct= conduit used to convey water over a long distance; structure, often a bridge, that carries such a conduit or a canal across a valley or river
Aragon= autonomous region of northeastern Spain: independent kingdom from the 11th century until 1479, when it was united with Castile to form modern Spain
arco= arch
ashlar= a block of hewn stone with straight edges for use in building


b.C.= before Christ
baldachino= canopy of fabric or stone over an altar, shrine, or throne in a Christian church
bambino= child, kid
baroque= style of architecture and decorative art that flourished throughout Europe from the late 16th to the early 18th century, characterized by extensive use of the ornamentation
basalt= a fine-grained dark basic igneous rock consisting of plagioclase feldspar, a pyroxene, and olivine: the most common volcanic rock and usually extrusive
basilica= Roman building, used for public administration, having a large rectangular central nave with an aisle on each side and apse at the end; rectangular early Christian or medieval church, usually having a nave with clerestories, two of four aisles, one or more vaulted apses, and a timber roof; Roman Catholic church haing special ceremonial rights
beato= blessed
bersagliere= a member of a rifle regiment in the Italian Army
biblioteca= library
Bourbon= a member of the European royal line that ruled in France from 1589 to 1793 (when Louis XVI was executed by the revolutionaries) and was restored in 1815, continuing to rule in its Orleans branch from 1830 until 1848. Bourbon dynasties also ruled in Spain (1700-1808; 1813-1931) and Naples and Sicily (1734-1806; 1815-1860).
Byzantine= relating to the Byzantine Empire; relating to the style of architecture developed in the Byzantine Empire, characterized by massive domes with square bases, rounded arches, spires and minarets, and the extensive use of mosaics
Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire)= the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East created in 395 a.C., esp. after the deposition of the last emperor in Rome (476 a.C.). It was finally extinguished by the fall of Constantinople, its capital, in 1453

Caesar= any Roman emperor; title of the Roman emperors from Augustus to Hadrian
calidarium= a room for taking hot or vapour baths in a Roman bath
campagna= country; countryside
campanile= bell-tower, often detached from the building to which it belongs
cancello= gate
candelabra= large branched candleholder or holder for overhead lights
cappella= chapel
carcere= prison
Carolingian= relating to the Frankish dynasty founded by Pepin the Short, son of Charles Martel, which ruled in France from 751-987 a.C. and in Germany until 911 a.C.
Carthage= an ancient city state, on the north African coast near present-day Tunis. Founded about 800 b.C. by Phoenician traders, it grew into an empire dominating north Africa and the Mediterranean. Destroyed and then rebuilt by Rome, it was finally razed by the Arabs in 697 a.C.
casa= house
castello= castle
castita'= chastity
catacomb= underground burial place, esp. galleries at Rome, consisting of tunnels with vaults or niches leading off them for tombs
cathedral= the principal church of a diocese, containing the bishop's official throne
Celt= a member of an Indo-European people who in pre-Roman times inhabited Britain, Gaul, Spain, and other parts of western and central Europe
cena= supper
chanchel= part of a church containing the altar, sanctuary, and choir, usually separated from the nave and transepts by a screen
chiesa= church
citta'= city
cloister= covered walk, usually around aquadrangle in a religious institution, having an open arcade or colonnade on the inside and a wall on the outside
coat-of-arms= heraldic bearings of a person, family, or corporation
collegio= college
colonna= column
commune= the smallest administrative unit in Italy, governed by a mayor and council
consul= either of two annually elected magistrates who jointly exercised the highest authority in the republic
convento= monastery
cornice= the top projecting mouldings of an entablature; a continuous horizontal projectinf course or moulding at the top of a wall, building
cortile= courtyard
Cristo= Christ
croce= cross
crocifissione= crucifixtion
cuore= heart
courtesan= prostitute, or the mistress of a man of rank
cupola= dome
cupolone= big dome


decollazione= beheading, decollation
diocese= district under the jurisdiction of a bishop
Doric= relating to one of the five classical orders of architecture: characterized by a column having no base, a heavy fluted shaft, and a capital consisting of an ovolo moulding beneath a square abacus.
duomo= cathedral


elemosina= alms
entablature= the part of classical temple above the columns, having an architrave, a frieze, and a cornice
equilibrio= balance
Este= a noble family of Italy founded by Alberto Azzo II (996-1097), who was invested with the town of Easte in northeastern Italy as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire. The family governed Ferrara (13th-16th centuries), Modena, and Reggio (13th-18th centuries).

Etruscan (Etrurian)=

a member of an ancient people of central Italy whose civilization influenced the Romans, who had suppressed them about 200 b.C.
Eucharist= the Christian sacrament in which Christ's Last Supper is commemorated by the consecration of bread and wine.
exedra= a building, room, portico, or apse containing a continuous bench, used in ancient Greece and Rome for holding discussions.

famiglia= family
figlio (a)= son, daughter
fiume= river
fontana= fountain
forum= open space in a town serving as a market or meeting-place
Francese= French
Frank= a member of a group of West Germanic peoples who spread from the east bank of the middle Rhine into the Roman Empire in the late 4th century a.C., gradually conquering most of Gaul and Germany. The Franks achieved their greatest power under Charlemagne
fresco= very durable method of wall-painting using watercolours on wet plaster
frigidarium= a room for taking cold baths in a Roman bath
fuori= outside


Gallia= Gaul
Gaul= an ancient region in Western Europe corresponding to northern Italy, France, Belgium, part of Germany, and the southern NetherlandsL divided into Cisalpine Gaul, which became a Roman province before 100 b.C., and Transalpine Gaul, which was conquered by Julius Caesar (58-51 b.C.); a native of ancient Gaul; a Frenchman
giardino= garden
giovane= young
giudizio= judgement
giustizia= justice
Goth= a member of an East Germanic people from Scandinavia who settled south of the Baltic early in the first millenium a.C. They moved on to the Ukrainian steppes and raided and later invaded many parts of the Roman Empire from the 3rd to the 5th century.
Gothic= denoting, relating to, or resembling the style of architecture that was used in western Europe from the 12th to the 16th centuries, characterized by the lancet arch, the ribbed vault, and the flying buttress
granduca= grand duke
Greek cross= cross with the arms of equal length
grotto= small cave, esp. one with attractive features
guerra= war


halberd= weapon consisting of a long shaft with an axe blade and a pick, topped by a shearhead: used in 15th-16th century warfare
Hapsburg= German princely famliy founded by Albert, count of Hupasburg (1153). From 1440 to 1806, the Hapsburgs wore the imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire almost uninterruptedly. They also provided rulers for Austria, Spain, Hungary, Bohemia, etc. The line continued as the royal house of Hapsburg-Lorraine, ruling in Austria (1806-1848) and Astria-Hungary (1848-1918).


incendio= fire
incunabula= any book printed before 1500
Inglese= English
intarsia= a decorative or pictorial mosaic of inlaid wood or sometimes ivory of a style developed in the Italian Renaissance and used esp. on wooden wall panels.


lansquenets= (landsknecht) mercenary foot soldier in late 15th-, 16th-, and 17th-century Europe, esp. a German pikeman
Latin cross= cross with a long vertical arm
libro= book
loggia= covered area on the side of a building, esp. one that serves as a porch
Lombard (Longobard)= a member of an ancient Germanic people who sttled in northern Italy after 568 a.C.
lunette= semicircular space in a vault or ceiling often decorated with a painting or relief


maggiore= greater; the greatest; larger; the largest; bigger; the biggest
mannerism= principally Italian movement in art and architecture between the High Renaissance and Baroque periods (1520-1600) that sought to represent an ideal of beauty rather than natural images of it, using characteristic distortion and exaggeration of human proportions, perspecive, etc.
manuscript= book or other document written by hand; original handwritten or typed version of a book, article, etc., as submitted by an author for publication
martyr= person who suffers death rather than renounce his religious beliefs
Medici= Italian family of bankers, merchants and rulers of Florence and Tuscany, prominent in Italian political and cultural history in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries
Montefeltro= Italian noble family who ruled Urbino from the 13th to the 16th century
morto= dead
mosaic= design or decoration made up of small pieces of coloured glass, stone, etc.
Mose'= Moses
mura= walls
Muse= Greek myth. any of nine sister goddesses, each of whom was regarded as the protectress of a different art or science. Daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the nine are Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia and Urania.
museo= museum


narthex= 1.a portico at the west end of a basilica or church, esp. one that is at right angles to the nave; 2. a rectangular entrance hall between the porch and nave of a church.
Naumachia= mock naval combat for which the arena of an amphitheatre was   flooded
Neolithic= the cultural period that lasted in southwestern Asia from about 9000 to 6000 b.C. and in Europe from about 4000 to 2400 b.C. and was characterized by primitive crop growing and stock rearing and the use of polished stone and flint tools and weapons
nipote= nephew; grandson
Norman= 1.(in the Middle Ages) a member of the people of Normandy descended from the 10th-century Scandinavian conquerors of the country and the native French; 2.relating to the style of Romanesque architecture used in Britain from the Norman conquest until the 12th century. It is characterized by the rounded arch, the groin vault, massive masonry walls, etc.
nuovo= new


oblate= person dedicated to a monastic or religious life
orologio= clock, watch
orto= garden
ospedale= hospital
osservatorio= observatory
Ostrogoth= a member of the eastern group of the Goths, who formed a kingdom in Italy from 493 to 552.


pala= altarpiece
Palaeolithic= the period of the emergence of primitive man and the manufacture of unpolished chipped stone tools, about 2.5 million to 3 million years ago until about 12 000 b.C.
palazzo= palace
papa= pope
parish= subdivision of a diocese, having its own church and a clergyman
pellegrino= pilgrim
Phoenician= a member of an ancient Semitic people of northwestern Syria who dominated the trade of the ancient world in the first millenium b.C. and founded colonies throughout the Mediterranean
piazza= square
pieta'= pity, mercy, compassion
pigna= pine-cone
pilaster= a shallow rectangular column attached to the face of a wall
pinacoteca= picture-gallery
pittura= painting
podesta= any of the governors of the Lombard cities appointed by Frederick Barbarossa; a chief magistrate in any of various republics, such as Florence
polittico= polyptych
polyptych= an altarpiece consisting of more than three panels, set with paintings or carvings, and usually hinged for folding
ponte= bridge
popolo= people
porphyry= a reddish-purple rock consisting of large crystals of feldspar in a finer groundmass of feldspar, hornblende, etc.
porta= door, gate
portone= big door, main door, front door, big gate
portico= covered entrance to a building; porch; a covered walkway in the form of a roof supported by columns or pilars, esp. one built on to the exterior of a building
pr(a)etore= any of several senior magistrates ranking just below the consuls
predella 1.painting or sculpture or a series of small paintings or sculptures in a long narrow strip forming the lower edge of an altarpiece or the face of an altar step or platform; 2.platform in a church upon which the altar stands
primavera= spring
prophet= person who supposedly speaks by divine inspiration, esp. one through whom a divinity expresses his will; a person who predicts the future
putto, putti (pl.)= representation of a small boy, a cherub or cupid, esp. in baroque painting or sculptre


quadriga= twowheeld chariot drawn by four horses abreast


Renaissance= period of European history marking the waning of the Middle Ages and the rise of the modern world: usually considered as beginning in Italy in the 14th century
Risorgimento= period of and movement for the political unification of Italy in the 19th century
Russo= Russian


sacristy= room attached to a church or chapel where the sacred vessels, vestments, etc., are kept and where priests attire themselves
sala= hall
santo (San)= saint
Saracen= 1.a member of one of the nomadic Arabic tribes, esp. of the Syrian desert, that harassed the borders of the Roman Empire in that region; a Muslim, esp. one who opposed the crusades; (later) any Arab; 2. relating to Arabs of either of these periods, regions, or types.
sarcophagus= stone or marble coffin or tomb, esp. one bearing sculpture or inscriptions
Savoia= Savoy
Savoy= a noble family of Italy that ruled over the duchy of Savoy and became the royal house of Italy (1861-1946): the oldest reigning dynasty in Europe before the dissolution of the Italian monarchy
scala= stairs
Serristori= ancient and famous Florentine family which existance is documented in the second half of the 12th century
Settembre= September
Sforza= the dynasty that ruled Milan in 1450-1535
sibyl= any of a number of women believed to be oracles or prophetesses, one of the most famous being the sibyl of Cumae, who guided Aeneas through the underwold
sienna= natural earth containing ferric oxide used as a yellowish-brown pigment when untreated or a reddish-brown pigment when roasted
simulacrum= any image or representation of something
sorella= sister
Spagnolo= Spanish
stanza= room
storie= stories; history
strega= witch
stucco= weather-resistant mixture of dehydrated lime, powdered marble, and glue, used in decorative mouldings on buildings
Swabia= a region and former duchy (from the 10th century to 1313 of southern Germany, now part of Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria.


Tedesco= German
tempietto= little temple
tempio= temple
tepidarium= room for taking warm baths in a Roman bath
terracotta= a hard unglazed brownish-red eathenware, or the clay from which it is made
Torlonia= noble Roman family existing from the 18th century
traforo= tunnel
transept= either of the two wings of a cruciform church at right angles to the nave
Transfiguration= New Testament. the change in the appearance of Christ that took place before three disciples
Transubstantiation=  doctrine that the whole substance of the bread and wine changs into the substance of the body and blood of Christ when consecrated in the Eucharist
triptych= painting or tablet in three sections, often used as an altarpiece
triumvirate= board of three officials jointly responsible for some task; the political alliance of Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey, formed in 60 b.C. (First Triumvirate); the coalition and joint rule of the Roman Empire by Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian, begun in 43 b.C. (Second Triumvirate)


ultimo(a)= last


Vandal= a member of a Germanic people that raided Roman provinces in the 3-4th centuries a.C. before devastating Gaul (406-409), conquering Spain and northern Africa, and sacking Rome (455): crushed by Belisarius at Carthage (533)
vecchio(a)= old
venti= twenty
via= street
viale= big street
villa= villa, park
Visconti= the ruling family of Milan in 1277-1447


WWI= the first World War
WWII= the second World War


Zouave= 1.a member of a body of French infantry composed of Algerian recruits noted for their dash, hardiness and colourful uniforms; 2. a member of any body of soldiers wearing a similar uniform or otherwise modelled on the French Zouaves
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