Art Glossary of Terms
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Art Glossary of Terms - Art Lexicon RA to RZ

  • rabbet - A groove along the window edge on the back of a frame. It allows for the greater protection and shallower or deeper placement of glass, mat, picture, etc. It might be produced with such tools as a rabbet plane or a router.

  • rabbit skin - The source for glue size traditionally used in preparing a ground for oil painting.

  • radial, radiate, and radial balance - Radial means anything of, relating to, or arranged like rays.

  • radiograph - An image produced by radiation other than visible light, especially by x-rays passed through an object or by photographing a fluoroscopic image, on a radiosensitive surface, such as a photographic film. Radiographs are sometimes made of art objects to better see what is beneath their surfaces, in hopes of revealing information about their making, and alterations over time. Typical examples are radiographs of mummies, and of paintings that have been painted over, are in need of conservation, or are suspected forgeries. Also see fluorescence, infrared reflectography (IR) and reflectogram, and overpainting.

  • radius - A straight line from the center of a circle to any point on its circumference, or from the center of a sphere to any point on its surface, and the length of any such line. Also, a long, slightly curved bone, the shorter and thicker of the two forearm bones, located on the lateral side of the ulna. The plural form can be either radii or radiuses. Double the radius and you have the diameter. Also see radial, radiate, and ray.

  • raffia - An African palm tree having large fibrous leaves. The leaf fibers of this plant are processed into materials used for many craft purposes, often in carpets, baskets, and hats. It is most commonly available in its natural, tan color, but can also be obtained bleached, and dyed in many colors. Also see African art, applied arts, cane and caning, furniture, mask, rattan, reed, rush, textile, and wood.

  • raising - The shaping of a malleable metal such as silver or gold by hammering it around a domed model generally of pitch, to extend it from a sheet to a hollow form. Also see boss, emboss, relief, repoussé, sinking, and wrought iron.

  • raking cornice - In architecture, the cornice on the sloping sides of a pediment.

  • raking light - Light cast upon a surface at an acute angle enlarging shadows cast by elements of the surface's texture or of a relief sculpture, increasing the contrast of its luminosity.

  • raku - Porous low-fired ceramic ware characterized by deep, subtly changing colors.

  • Ramayana - In Hindu tradition, a Sanscrit epic telling of Rama, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.

  • rare - One of a kind, or of a very limited number. Also see collect, collectible, edition, market value, and philately.

  • rasp - A coarse and abrasive tool made of metal (usually steel). The abrasive surface has many pointed teeth shaped like tiny pyramids, and typically the surrounding surface is perforated so that dust doesn't clog it. Rasps are used in shaping and smoothing wood, plaster, ivory, stone, etc. Files are generally more finely abrasive than rasps, while rifflers are the most finely abrasive of all rasps. Also see surform.

  • rathas - In Hindu tradition, small, freestanding temples, perhaps sculptured as architectural models.

  • ratio - The relationship between two or more similar things in size, number, or degree. The numerator and denominator of every fraction function in this way. For example, "1/2" represents the ratio between one and two: one of two equal parts that together make a whole. 3/6 and 50/100 are similar ratios. Ratios are often expressed as numbers separated by a colon, and read as "is to." Analogies are often made using ratios. An example is 50:100 as 1:2. Ratio is essential to scale and proportion, and to the particular type of proportion known as the Golden Mean.

  • rational - Consistent with or based on reason; logical. This is relative to several factors, including context; as, for instance, in a culture whose thinking is classical, idealizing, or scientific.

  • rattan - A plant, and all materials derived from it — primarily cane and reed — have been used largely in the production of baskets and wicker furniture. It is obtained from such areas as as China, Southeast Asia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Its earliest use in basketry has been dated to the third millennium BCE. Rattan has been used as the framework for wicker furniture since the mid-19th century, although most wicker from the 1870s-1940s was made with a wooden structure.

  • ray - A thin line or narrow beam of light, or a representation of such a straight line. A structure or part having the form of a straight line extending from a point; and when there are several such lines extending from one point, they may be said to radiate from that point, as points radiate from a star. Also see actino-, circle, girandole, incident light, light, radial balance, radius, reflection, refraction, and surface.

  • rayograph - In the work of Man Ray (American, 1890-1977), a photogram.

  • Rayonism - A type of abstract or semi-abstract painting characterized by the fragmentation of forms into masses of slanting lines. It was practised from 1912-1914 by Natalya S. Goncharova (Russian-French, 1881-1962), Mikhail Larionov (Russian-French, 1881-1964), and a few other Russian painters. Larionov's manifesto on Rayonism stated that it is a synthesis of Cubism, Futurism, and Orphism." Aspects of each of those isms can indeed be seen in Rayonist paintings — Cubism's breaking up of forms, Futurism's movement of forms, and Orphism's rich color. In addition, the Rayonists expounded a theory that objects emitted invisible rays which the painters could manipulate to their own purposes. "The rays which emanate from the objects and cross over one another give rise to rayonist forms. The artist transforms these by bending them to his desire for aesthetic expression." Goncharova and Larionov often applied the paint in their Rayonist works with palette knives.

  • rayonnant - The "radiant" style in thirteenth century architecture that is associated with the royal Paris court of Louis IX (1214-1270), the French king also known as Saint Louis.

  • readability - In typography and any written text, the degree to which it is legible. In any text, very rarely is the need to convey a style more important than it is to communicate its meaning. Although lettering should be attractive, readability is usually the most important factor in its design.

  • realgar - A particular red pigment.

  • realia - Material culture, or objects from real life, in contrast to those objects typically included in a collection. A piece of realia draws attention either because it is a common example of its kind — as an exemplum rather than as an exemplar — or because of associations with its previous owner. Some such objects might also be described as artifacts, ephemera, bric-a-brac, gewgaws, found objects, or memorabilia, but they are seldom prized for any qualities of their design, for their fine materials, or for the craftsmanship with which they were made.

  • ream - 500 sheets of paper.

  • rebate - In framing, this is the step-shaped cut in the reverse side of the molding which accepts the edge of the canvas, panel, etc.

  • rebus - Pictures or symbols presented as representing words, and often acting as a puzzle, usually for children.

  • rectilinear and rectilineal - Moving in or forming a straight line. Also, characterized by straight lines. "Rectilinear" comes from the late Latin "rectilineus," which itself comes from the Latin words "rectus" ("straight") and "linea" ("line"). "Rectilineal" is a synonymous form of this word. Because "rectilineal" remains far less popular than its relative, writers might as well avoid it unless there's a need to rhyme with anneal. (pr. reck'tuh-lin"ee-r and reck'tuh-lin"ee-l) Also see lattice, linear, linear perspective, rectangle, and rectangular.

  • recto - The front side of any work on paper. May also be the right-hand page of a book. The opposite of verso. The front and rear sides of other two-sided objects, such as coins, medals, or panels which have a painting on each side are more often referred to as obverse and reverse. Also see numismatics.

  • red-figure - In later ancient Greek pottery, a technique in which red figures were silhouetted against a black background.

  • reduction firing - A method of producing greater depth of color on a clay body by firing ceramics with reduced oxygen in the kiln.

  • reed - A natural, fibrous weaving material used in the production of baskets and wicker furniture. The inner pith of the rattan plant is called reed. Its grain makes its appearance similar to a wood. Reed has a certain brittle quality. It comes in various dimensions. Reed is more porous than cane, and will accept a stain, paint, lacquer or varnish. Also see bamboo, cane and caning, furniture, raffia, and rush.

  • reflected color - The color perceived from an object, determined by the wavelength of the light leaving its surface after selective absorption of other wavelengths of the incident light — the light hitting the surface. Reflected light behaves in certain ways that differentiate it from colors produced by sources of the light. The concept of reflected color is related to that of subtractive color — color produced by mixing cyan, yellow and magenta pigments, each of which absorbs certain wavelengths. A balanced mixture of these colorant or subtractive primaries theoretically yields black since it absorbs all wavelengths of visible light. Also see additive, local color, optical mixing, and primary colors.

  • reflection, reflected image - An image given back by a reflecting surface, such as that of a mirror or still waters. Each ray of light that hits a surface is an incident ray of light. Rays that are neither absorbed, nor reflected, are scattered rays of light. A person sees a clearer reflection when a high number and percentage of rays are reflected, and a small number of rays are either absorbed or scattered.

  • reflexivity - The process of making one self-aware of one’s immersion in visual culture to examine one’s own position, and hidden influences, sometimes through intertextuality. Also see visuality.

  • Reformation - A religious revolution in western Europe that took place during the sixteenth century. It began as a reform movement within the Roman Catholic Church but evolved into the doctrines of Protestantism. Also see Baroque.

  • refraction, refract - Refraction is the change in direction which occurs when rays of light pass from one medium to another of a different density, as they do from air to glass or water. Or, the distortion of an image by seeing through a translucent medium. To refract is to cause such a change in the direction of light. Ophthalmology is concerned with the eye's refractive ability: changing the direction of light in order to focus it on the retina. An ophthalmologist measures this refractive ability, resulting in an accurate prescription for lenses which will optically compensate for the eye's inability to achieve focus. Also see angle, mother-of-pearl, point of view, reflection, refractory, telescope, and wavelength.

  • refractory - Resistant to high temperatures. Refractory materials are used for molds in lost-wax casting and for kiln furniture on which ceramic ware stands while it is fired. Also see refraction.

  • Regency - Refers to one of the periods during which a person or group has been selected to govern in the place of a ruler who is either absent, disabled, or too young to govern. In England, this is the style of design prevalent during the regency from 1811-1820, of the future George IV. An example is Paul Storr's (English, active 1785-1838) Centerpiece, 1810-1811, silver with mark: date letter P, width at base: 18 x 14 inches, Birmingham Museum of Art. Among the French, it refers to the style prevalent during the regency from 1674-1723, of Philippe, Duc d'Orleans.

  • register, register mark, and registration - The exact alignment of shapes or edges in various areas of any piece of work. In printmaking, registration is the proper positioning of plates or colors. Any mark made to assist in positioning elements for better alignment can be called a register mark, registration mark, reg mark, or an alignment mark. In museum work, registration is the process of developing and maintaining an immediate, brief, and permanent means of identifying an object for which the museum has assumed responsibility.

  • registrar - A person with broad responsibilities in the development and the enforcement of policies and procedures pertaining to the acquisition, management and disposition of collections. The registrar maintains the records pertaining to the objects for which the institution has assumed responsibility. Usually the registrar also handles arrangements for accessions, loans, packing, shipping, storage, customs, and insurance as it relates to the objects. Also see art careers, curator, museology, museum, preparator, register, and typology.

  • regular - Uniformly or evenly formed or arranged. Circles, squares, and equilateral triangles must all be regular shapes. Some ovals and some quadrilaterals are regular. No amorphous shapes or biomorphic forms can ever be regular. Also see straight.

  • reify, reification - To treat an abstraction as if it had concrete or material existence. Reification is what the viewer experiences in treating an abstraction as if it had concrete or material existence. (pr. ree'e-fi:) See trompe l'oeil and universal artwork.

  • reinforced concrete - Concrete with increased tensile strength produced by iron or steel mesh or bars embedded in it. Also called ferroconcrete.

  • relative humidity - The proportion of actual moisture in the air to the maximum amount possible at a specified temperature. It is stated as a percentage, with 100% being air fully saturated with water vapor. Control very important in art conservation because when relative humidity is either too high, too low, or changes dramaticly, relative humidity can damage many types of artworks. Organic materials absorb or give off moisture in a continuous attempt to achieve equilibrium with the atmosphere. These materials tend to be more stable in a moderate relative humidity (45-55%), a condition rarely present in normal exterior or interior environments. Inorganic materials usually are not affected by relative humidity levels unless they contain salts or are otherwise unstable. Metals, however, are best preserved at low relative humidity. Serious damage can occur when materials are subjected to dramatic, sudden changes in relative humidity over short periods. Prolonged exposure of organic materials to relative humidity above 60-65% will encourage the growth of molds and fungi. Also see climate control, condensation, foxing, hygrothermograph, museum, silica gel, and thymol.

  • release agent - A substance applied to the inside surfaces and seams of a mold to prevent the casting from adhering to the mold; also variously known as a separator, parting agent, or parting compound. A release agent for casting plaster in a mold may be a thin clay slip, or several applications of a soft liquid soap, petroleum jelly, or a thin oil. To permit clay to separate from a mold, apply either powdered chalk or talc as a release agent.

  • relic - An object or a custom that remains from a previous time or culture. Something prized for its age or historic interest, especially something that can be linked to a particular person, place or event. Or, an object of religious veneration, especially a piece of the body of a holy person, or of an object associated with one. In the Christian tradition, relics were especially important throughout the Middle Ages. In the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, relics of the saints and other holy persons, as well as bits of the crown of thorns, the true cross, and other objects associated with holy persons, are prized for those associations. A container for a relic is a reliquary, also called a feretory. A feretory is also the area of a church in which relics are kept.

  • relief printing - Printing methods in which a block of wood, linoleum or some other material's surface is carved so that an image can be printed from it — un-carved areas receiving ink which transfers to another surface when the block is pressed against it. Block printing. Also see brayer and woodcut.

  • reliquary - A container or receptacle, such as a coffer or shrine, used to keep or display sacred relics, and usually made of a richly decorated, precious material. Reliquaries have been produced by numerous cultures. In the Christian tradition, they were especially important throughout the Middle Ages. Another name for reliquary, though much less common, is feretory. Feretory is also the area of a church in which relics are kept.

  • render - To represent in a drawing or painting, especially in perspective. Also, to create an interpretation of another artist's work, perhaps in another form. Also, a coat of plaster, cement, or concrete which is applied to raw brick, stone, etc., or to apply such a coat.

  • rendering and rendition - A depiction or an interpretation. Also, a drawing in perspective of a proposed structure. (Rendering can be used either as a noun or as a verb.) Also see Index of American Design and render.

  • repetition - Closely related to harmony, a principle of design, this term refers to a way of combining elements of art so that the same elements are used over and over again. Thus, a certain color or shape might be used several times in the same picture. Repetition also can contribute to movement and rhythm in a work of art.

  • replica - A copy. The verb form is replicate. More often used for copies of technological and other manufactured objects than for works of art.

  • repoussé - The method of producing metal relief by hammering and/or punching a sheet of metal from the back. The metal is usually hammered into a prepared mold, then final details are engraved onto the front of the relief. Materials raised by repoussé can either stop at having embossed surfaces, or they can be taken beyond such a relief stage to result in an object that must be seen in the round. Because it comes to us in a past tense form in French, it is inappropriate to add -ed in English usage. (pr. reh'poo-say")

  • represent and representation - To stand for; symbolize. To depict or portray subjects a viewer may recognize as having a likeness; the opposite of abstraction. A representation is such a depiction.

  • reproduction - The act of reproducing; copying; creating a facsimile. The product of the act of reproducing, especially when it is significantly faithful in its resemblance to the form and elements of the original.

  • Republic of China or Republican period of Chinese art - A Chinese period of history which began in 1912. Although the Republic of China was driven from what is now called China (People's Republic of China) in 1949 by Communist revolutionaries led by Mao Tsetung, it has continued to flourish on the island of Taiwan (Formosa), as an independent country, also called Nationalist China. When General Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) resigned as president of Nationalist China in January 1949 and fled to Taiwan that May, he took with him a national art collection that was kept in crates for years as he and his followers clung to the ever-diminishing hope that they would someday take it back to Beijing. This collection became the core of what is today the National Palace Museum.

  • reserve column - In ancient Egyptian and Etruscan domed tombs, a column that is hewn from the living rock and serves no supporting function. Also see architecture and structure.

  • resin - A natural substance secreted by plants (mostly trees), which is transparent to translucent yellow or brown, such as copal, rosin, and amber, used principally in lacquers, varnishes, inks, adhesives, synthetic plastics, and turpentine. Also, synthetic plastics, including thermoplastic materials such as polyvinyl, polystyrene, and polyethylene, and thermosetting materials such as polyesters, epoxies, polyurethane, and silicones that are used with fillers, stabilizers, pigments, and other components to form plastics.

  • resist - A substance which protects a surface from receiving paints, inks, or dyes. Waxes are commonly used as a resist to the dyes used in batik. Also see beeswax, blockout, clean up, lithography, paraffin, and solvent.

  • resolution, image - In digital imaging, the number of pixels, in both height and width, making up an image. The higher the resolution of an image, the greater its clarity and definition. The resolution for Web graphics is typically 72 dpi, way too low for print purposes. If the artwork is linework (no shades or tints, only solid colors), the resolution of a graphic must match the resolution of the final printer. If that isn't known, then saving the artwork at 600 dpi is likely to be safe.

  • resolution, output - The number of dots per inch, dpi, used to display a digital image on a monitor or in print. The resolution for Web graphics is typically 72 dpi, way too low for most print purposes.

  • resonance - A prolonged, subtle, or stimulating effect beyond the initial impact. Something resonates either when it stays in one's memory, or when its juxtaposition to another thing has such an effect. Also see aesthetic experience, edge, frisson, and meaning.

  • respond - In architecture, an engaged column, pilaster, or similar structure that projects from a compound pier or some other supporting device or is joined to a wall and carries one end of an arch, often at the end of an arcade. A nave arcade, for example, may have nine pillars and two responds.

  • retable - Structural and decorative elements of an altarpiece, which may include the frames for painted panels, shelves, ornaments, etc. Also see retablo and votive.

  • retablo - Spanish for retable. The example below, because it depicts a saint, is a santo retablo. Santos are votive pictures or sculptures made or used by Christians of Hispanic heritage. They are not images intended to be physically descriptive of a person, but are seen as the symbolic embodiment of an ideal.

  • retina - Anatomically essential to seeing, this is a delicate, multilayered, light-sensitive membrane lining the inner eyeball, opposite the eye's lens. It is a sheet of photoreceptors (light receptors), millions of specialized brain cells (neurons) which are excited by light. These light receptors are differentiated into neurons called rods and cones, which are connected by the optic nerve to the brain.

  • retinal art - As originated by Marcel Duchamp (French-American, 1887-1968), this refers to art whose appeal is mainly or exclusively to the eye rather than to the mind. Also see Dada, meaning, Op Art, optical, and sight.

  • retouch - To make corrections on artwork. In photography, eliminating or altering parts of a picture. Also see art conservation, art criticism, art restoration, and assessment.

  • retrospective - An exhibit that shows a large number of works over time by a living artist. This allows a viewer to study the development of the artist's style, use of techniques, and choice of subjects, along with other aspects of the work. Retrospectives have traditionally been arranged chronologically — early career, middle career, late career — but may also be arranged thematically. Also see catalogue raisonné.

  • reversals - Perceiving, reading, and writing words and letters backwards. For example, "cat" appears as "tac", and "d" as "b." A common trait among dyslexics. Also see distort and text.

  • reverse - The rear or back view of an object. To turn an object backward, or to order a number of things in an opposite direction. Often refers to the back side of a two-sided object, such as a coin, a medal, a seal, or a panel which has a painting on each side. The opposite of reverse is obverse. The front and rear sides of works on paper are more often referred to as recto and verso. Also see align and alignment, graphic design, invert, mirror, negative, numismatics, and reversible.

  • reversible - Having the ability to be reversed or inverted. A reversible image is one that can be seen as right-side-up even when turned upside-down, or as frontward when it is backward or flipped over.

  • RGB - Red green blue. An additive system for representing the color spectrum using combinations of red, green and blue. Used in theatrical lighting and in video display devices.

  • rhombohedron - A polyhedron with six two-dimensional faces, each a rhombus. Also see mathematics, polygon, and vertex.

  • rhombus - An equilateral parallelogram. Each face of the rhombohedron above is a rhombus. A rhombus's area is the length of one side times the height (the distance between opposite sides). The plural form can be either rhombbuses or rhombbi. (pr. rom'by) Also see polygon, quadrilateral, rectangle, rhombohedron, square, trapezium, and trapezoid.

  • rhopography - A genre comprising representations of trivial bric-a-brac, which may include such things as the remains of a meal, garbage on the floor, etc. Variations on this genre might include Dadaist readymades and works in the Arte Povera style.

  • rhyton - An ancient drinking horn, typically made from pottery or metal, and frequently having a base formed to represent a human or animal head, or a mythological creature. The term rhyton comes from the Greek verb meaning "to run through," and depictions of rhyta on Greek vases show that they were used to aerate wine. (pr. right'on) Among the other types of Greek vases are the alabastron, amphora, hydria, kantharos, krater, kyathos, kylix, lekythos, oinochoe, pelike, phiale, pinax, pithos, and pyxis.

  • rib - A relatively slender, molded masonry arch that projects from a surface. In Gothic architecture, the ribs form the framework of the vaulting.

  • ridgepole - In architecture, the horizontal beam at the ridge of a roof, to which the upper ends of the rafters attach. Also see post and lintel and trabeation.

  • riffler - A fine, small, usually double-edged and often rounded rasp. The riffler is used in delicate shaping and finishing of a carving. Rifflers are made for work in wood, metal, and stone in a variety of sizes and shapes, some of which are pictured here. Files are generally more finely abrasive than rifflers. Surforms are more like graters. Also see plaster.

  • right angle - A 90° angle. The third of the four angles below is a right angle. The first two are obtuse angles. The last is an acute angle.

  • right brain - Refers to a theory in which the right side of the brain is the creative side, responsible for art and spatial comprehension, while the left side is responsible for reading, verbal, and mathematical sorts of tasks.

  • rinceau - An ornamental design composed of undulating foliate vine motif. (pr. ran-so')

  • ripsaw - A long-bladed hand-held saw with teeth designed for cutting wood in the same direction as the grain runs. Ripsaws have chisel-like teeth that plow through the wood. By contrast, the teeth of crosscut saws are pointed to cut wood fibers. Both types of teeth are bent out, or set, to create a kerf that's wider than the blade. Although the ripsaw seen here is a hand saw, ripsaw blades are also available for use in circular saws. Ripping with a hand saw demands a 60 degrees angle, as shown. Also see hacksaw.

  • risers - In lost-wax casting, risers are channels through the mold which allow air to escape as molten metal is poured into the mold. Although such channels are also sprues (or rods), other sprues are runners, through which air and gases can escape. Also see rodding.

  • rivet and riveting - A rivet is a short metal pin or bolt having a head on one end, inserted through aligned holes in two pieces of metal to be joined and then hammered on the narrow end so as to flatten it, forming a second head. Or, as with the kind shown here (commonly available in various sizes at hardware stores), a specialized tool is used to insert the rivet and pull out the pin, widening the end on the far side of the join. Riveting then is a method of joining pieces of metal (often sheets) using rivets. Also see steel sheet gauges.

  • rocaille - Small stone and shell motifs in some eighteenth century ornamentation. See the Louvre Museum's works in what it calls the "Rocaille style." French, literally, for "pebble." (pr. ro-kah'ee) Also see Baroque and Rococo.

  • rod - Physically essential to enabling sight, the photoreceptors on the retina of the eye which are responsive in low light conditions. see thumbnail to rightIn this illustration, the rods and cones are the pink forms shown embedded in the anterior of the retina's surface. The more uniformly thin rods, among the more thickly formed cones. Also see afterimage, binocular vision, gestalt, Op Art, ophthalmology, optical, optical mixing, perception, and peripheral vision.

  • rodding - The process of attaching wax rods to the surface of a wax model in lost-wax casting. The rods form the runners and the risers in the mold. In some regions a rod is called a sprue, and rodding is called spruing.

  • Roman or roman - In typography, type fonts based on the characters carved in stone, their thick and thin strokes derived from the writing tools used by scribe in ancient Rome. In its purest form, Roman letters have serifs at the ends of the strokes. Roman type is used in most books, magazines and newspapers. Also see capital letters.

  • Romanesque - The term Romanesque ("Roman-like") was first used to designate a style of architecture employing Roman (rounded) arches, and had thick, heavy walls, based upon the basilica. The style is pervasive throughout Europe. "Romanesque" also stands for European art in general of the period immediately before the development of the Gothic style. It was the first style to become dominant throughout virtually all of Europe. Some authorities give the designation Romanesque to art produced as early as the seventh century, although others give the eleventh century as the starting point, from which point it was prevalent until it was followed by the Gothic about 1200 . Romanesque art was primarily of and for the Christian church, and it existed in a variety of regional styles. The Romanesque church was characterized by being massive, with rounded arches and barrel vaults, piers rather than columns, and an abundance of arcades. The ribbed groin vault, developed during this period, was to be extremely important in Gothic architecture. Painting, which survives today mainly in illuminated manuscripts, had a decorative, linear quality and showed some Byzantine influence. Fresco and mosaic work were also popular. The period was marked by revival of monumental stone sculpture, which was created in great profusion as architectural ornament and relief, although large figures were seldom found outside niches. Freestanding sculptures were usually small products of the metalworker's art. (pr. ro'men-esk")

  • Romanitas - The religion of the Roman empire before the supremacy Christianity. The practice of Romanitas was based on imperial dominion. (pr. ro-man'ee-tahs) Also see Roman art.

  • rondel or roundel or rondelle - Any circular work of art or other object, or a circular element of a work, design or symbol. Sometimes seen in heraldry, architecture, and iron-work, for instance.

  • Rorschach test - In psychology, a test in which a person's interpretations of inkblots are analyzed as a measure of personality — "intellectual and emotional functioning and integration."

  • rosette - An ornament, often painted and / or sculpted, having a circular (radial) arrangement of parts resembling rose petals, more or less.

  • rose window - Large circular windows, with a radially balanced design of tracery and stained glass found in Gothic cathedrals. Also called a wheel window.

  • rottenstone - A soft, decomposed limestone. In powder form, rottenstone is used to clean and polish photographs for retouching. Also see abrasive.

  • rotulus - A long manuscript scroll. Rotuli were used by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, among others. There were predecessors to codices in the evolution of books.

  • rotunda - In architecture, a round building, hall, or room, usually with a domed ceiling. The entrances of public buildings, such as museums, are often of this shape.

  • rouge - A reddish powder or compound, chiefly ferric oxide, used to polish metals or glass.

  • rouge paper - Red paper, similar to carbon paper. It is used for transferring drawings, the red marks easily removed. Also see copy, tracing, and transfer paper.

  • round, sculpture in the - Sculpture which is free-standing and fully developed from all points of view. Also see relief and statue.

  • roving - A light rope made of loosely bonded glass fiber, used as reinforcement for resin sculpture.

  • Royal Academy or Royal Academy of Arts (RA) - In 1769, under the patronage of Britain's King George III, the Royal Academy met for its first session. The official title of this elite institution is "Royal Academy in London for the Purpose of Cultivating and Improving the Arts of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture," but most people who know it, including its members, simply call it "The R.A." The painters among the R.A.'s founding members were its first president, Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), the portraitist Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), the landscapist Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782), and Benjamin West (1738-1820), an American of the colonial period, who became president upon Reynolds' death. Members of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) are known as "associates", or more formally, "Associate of the Royal Academy" (ARA), and often place the initials "ARA" after their signatures. The Royal Academy owns a collection of masterful works produced by its members since the 18th century, and displays this collection in its galleries. Also see academy, artists' organizations, English art, history painting, Neoclassicism, and Romanticism.

  • rubbing compound - An abrasive paste used to rub down the surface of a resin sculpture to give it a polished finish.

  • Rube Goldberg - Refers to any device reminiscent of those drawn by American cartoonist Reuben (Rube) Goldberg (1883-1970). Each of Goldberg's inventions typically accomplished some task by an extraordinarily complicated and humorous means. Published as the "Crazy Inventions" in American newspapers, his drawings pictured an assemblage of ordinary objects, mechanical gadgets, and the oddest odds and ends linked together to perform simple operations. A "Rube Goldberg device" then, must be an incredibly impractical scheme or contraption, accomplishing by complex means what could have been done quite simply.

  • Rubénisme - The doctrine that color, rather than form, was the most important element in painting. A movement in seventeenth century France which highly valued the coloristic brilliance and painterly style of Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640), in reaction to Poussinisme, which highly valued the prominence of drawing and the linear style of Nicolas Poussin (French, 1593/94-1665). Rubens, Poussin, the Rubénistes, and the Poussinistes were all active during the Baroque period of art.

  • rugosity - A surface texture that is wrinkled, creased, or ridged.

  • rule of compensation - A guideline for balancing a composition that states that the bigger the mass, the more toward the center of an artwork it should be placed. Similarly, the smaller the mass, the more toward the edge it should be placed.

  • runner - In lost-wax casting, a channel in the mold through which the molten metal flows into the mold from a funnel or runner cup. Channels are made by attaching wax rods to a wax model prior to investment. When the mold is full, the runners fill with metal too. They must then be sawn off and filed. Occasionally they have been incorporated into the design of the final work, and not sawn off. A common example is the tang descending from the base or lowest portion of a sculpture, which is employed to secure the sculpture to its pedestal. Also see risers, rodding, and sprue.

  • rush - Rush is a paper material which resembles a rope or cord. It has a distinctive helical twist to it and can be unraveled. Rush was developed in the late 19th century as a substitute for rattan in wicker furniture, occasionally called paper fiber reed wicker. Sometimes a wire core is added to rush to increase its strength. A woven fabric of rush, called Lloyd loom paper fiber rush has been available since the early 20th century, largely used in the manufacture of wicker furniture. Alternatives to rush might include Oriental seagrass and Danish cord.

  • rust - A brown or reddish-brown oxide which forms on iron by corrosion, caused most commonly by exposure to water. A common source of brown pigments.

  • rustic - Typical of country life or country people. Lacking sophistication or elegance.

  • rusticate - In architecture, to give an eroded or rustic appearance by roughening the surface and beveling the edges of stone blocks to emphasize the joints between them. A technique popular during the Renaissance, especially for stone courses at the ground-floor level.
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