Art history definitions to 1400

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Twisted perspective

A convention of representation in which part of a figure is shown in profile and another part of the same figure is shown frontally

Heraldic composition

A composition that is symmetrical on either side of a central figure


Greek, "high city." In ancient Greece, usually the site of the city’s most important temple(s).


A portrayal of something as ideal; perfection.


A movement that emerged in mid-19th century France. Realist artists represented the subject matter of everyday life in a relatively naturalistic mode.


A carved stone slab used to mark graves or to commemorate historical events.


In ancient Mesopotamian architecture, a monumental platform for a temple.


A stronghold in which people could go for shelter during a battle.

Canon of proportion

A rule of proportion. The ancient Greeks considered beauty to be a matter of "correct" proportion, for the human figure and for buildings. First encorporated into a statue by fifth-century BCE sculptor Polykleitos.


Egyptian burial grounds. In Greek, means "city of the dead"


Arabic for "bench", rectangular brick with sloping sides


A small concealed chamber in Egyptian mastaba for the statue of the deceased for the Ka to find


structure consisting of a row of evenly spaced columns


The wide entrance gateway of an Egyptian temple, characterized by its sloping walls


porch or walkway with a roof supported by columns


The fenestrated part of a building that rises above the roofs of the other parts.

Heirarchy of Scale

An artistic convention in which greater size indicates greater importance.


Human posture in which the shoulders and head are turned one way and the hips and legs another; weight off the body is put on one foot, creating a feeling of tension on one side of the body and relaxation on the other

Corbel arch

(architecture) an arch constructed of masonry courses that are corbelled until they meet

Corbel vault

A vault formed by the piling of stone blocks in horizontal courses, cantilevered inward until the two walls meet in an arch.

Barrel vault

semicylindrical in cross-section, is in effect a deep arch or an uninterrupted series of arches, one behind the other, over an oblong space

Groin vault

a vault formed when two barrel vaults meet at right angles

Greek orders

Doric- Ionic- Corinthian

Triumphal arch

In Roman architecture, a freestanding arch commemorating an important event, such as a military victory or the opening of a new road.


Painting on lime plaster, either dry (dry fresco, or fresco secco) or wet (true fresco or buon). In the latter method, the pigments are mixed with water and become chemically bound to the freshly laid lime plaster.


In Roman architecture, a public building for legal and other civic proceedings, rectangular in plan with an entrance usually on a long side.


Greek, "double theater," A Roman building type resembling two Greek theaters put together.

Black figure painting

In early Greek pottery, the silhouetting of dark figures against a light background of natural, reddish clay, with linear details incised through the silhouettes.

Damnatio memoriae

The Roman decree condemning those who ran afoul of the Senate. They had their memorials demolished and their names erased from public inscriptions.


a person who represents an abstract quality


a stone coffin, especially one with a carving or inscription on it

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