Glossary for selected works
Academic Art - In Europe, referring to artwork produced in royal or government sponsored academies. These academies were extremely influential and established the official or acceptable artistic standards. In the United States, the American Academy of the Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts played similar roles.
American Academy of the Fine Arts - An institution founded in New York City in 1802 to encourage art appreciation. The Academy exhibited copies of classical works to encourage young artists to follow in a classical style. The Academy's reluctance to shift away from this classical ideal of art eventually led to the formation of a splinter group in 1825, which became the National Academy of Design.
Aquatint - An etching process in which areas of a metal plate are dusted with fine, acid-resistant particles such as powdered resin. The uncovered areas are then bitten away by acid to create a granular surface that produces soft, tonal effects.
Drypoint - An intaglio printing process in which lines are drawn on a metal plate, rather than etched by acid. A sharp needle is drawn directly on the plate, raising a burr. The burr and the incised line hold the ink, creating velvety effects.
Ecole des Beaux-Arts - The prestigious, official art academy of France established in Paris after the Revolution. It offered traditional and conservative training. Many of the impressionists were trained there but eventually reacted against its teachings.
Etching - An intaglio printing process using acid to create an image on a metal plate. The design is scratched through an acid-resistant coating with a needle, exposing the metal below. Dipping the plate into an acid bath bites away the lines of the design. This plate can then be inked and pressed against paper, producing a print which is also called an etching.
Genre - The term refers to art which shows scenes from daily life.
Impressionism - A movement among late nineteenth-century French painters who sought to present a true representation of light and color. Working primarily outdoors, such artists applied small touches of paint to catch fleeting impressions of the scenes before them. Many American artists adopted the style.
Intaglio - A general term covering etching and related printing techniques in which the ink that yields the image is held by recessed lines incised into a matrix (plate). Such a hollow-cut design is the opposite of relief.
Medium - The physical substance used as a means of expression by an artist. More specifically, the term refers to the substance in paint that binds the pigment to the surface.
Motif - The subject of a painting, or an element of design within a work of art.
Mural - A painting made directly on a wall or fastened to a wall.
National Academy of Design - An institution founded in New York in 1825 that offered artists instruction and exhibition opportunities. Breaking away from the American Academy of the Fine Arts, it admitted only artists to its membership.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts - Founded in Philadelphia in 1805 to promote the fine arts, this society provided copies of works of art as models for local artists. Within a few years life classes were offered, and later an exhibition program for contemporaneous American art was established. From these exhibitions, the Academy acquired many outstanding works for its collection.
Post-Impressionism - A broad term for the work of western European artists who reacted against impressionism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The widely differing styles of Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat are post-impressionist.
Relief - A sculptural design created so that all or part of it projects from a flat surface. Can refer to the illusion of three dimensions in a painting. In printing, an overall term for images produced from ink that lies on top of raised surfaces; the opposite of intaglio.
State - In printmaking, the technical term for each stage through which a print may pass. States are pulled in the development of a work to review the actual appearance.
Watercolor -Transparent paint made from water-soluble pigments, water, and water-soluble gum.
Woodblock Print - A print made from a block of wood which is carved along the grain to eliminate the background and leave the image in relief. The raised image takes the ink and is pressed against paper to create the print. A color woodcut is a relief print produced with different blocks, each imprinting a separate color. The blocks (and their printed areas) fit together to make the final image.