altarpiece (n)
a painting or relief placed above or behind the altar in a church

ancient art (n)
in Western culture, the art of the period preceding the Middle Ages; the art of the Greeks and Romans between 1200 B.C. and A.D. 400

antiquity (n)
ancient times between 1200 B.C. and A.D. 400; the period preceding the Middle Ages

apocalypse (n)
the end of the world according to Christian belief; an event predicted in the biblical Book of Revelation in which God separates the Blessed from the Damned, delivering the former into Heaven and the latter into Hell

apocryphal (n)
refering to books that are excluded from the New Testament in some versions of the Christian Bible because of their dubious authenticity

apostles (n)
the group of 12 disciples (including Peter, John, Matthew, and Judas) chosen by Christ to spread his teachings and whose writings are the basis of the New Testament of the Christian Bible

armor (n)
a defensive covering for the body, made of metal and used in battle during the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque periods

background (n)
the part of a painting or drawing representing the space behind figures or objects that are close to the viewer (in the foreground)

bad thief/good thief (n)
in the biblical story of Christ’s crucifixion (the Passion Story), the two thieves who were executed with Christ. The "bad thief" on Christ’s left doubts that he is the son of God, and challenges him to save them from their executions. The "good thief" on Christ’s right rebukes the bad thief, saying that he and the other criminal deserve their punishment while recognizing that Christ has done nothing wrong.

baptize (v)
to perform the Christian ceremony of purification by water; an act that admits the recipient into the Christian Church

Baroque (adj)
style of art and architecture prevalent in Europe in the 17th and early 18th centuries, characterized by extravagant theatrical forms and including dramatic manipulations of space, vivid illusions, opulent color, movement, and strong contrasts of light and dark

battlements (n)
a stone structure on top of the exterior wall of a fortress or castle with notched indentations for decoration or defense

Book of Revelation (n)
biblical book written by Saint John the Evangelist in the 1st- or 2nd-century A.D. that recounts his vision of the apocalypse

Calypso (n)
sea nymph who keeps Ulysses captive on her island for nine years in hopes that he will eventually agree to be her husband. She allows him to leave only after the messenger god Hermes tells her that the goddess Athena wishes him to be released.

character study (n)
a drawing, painting, or sculpture that attempts to capture the personality of a subject rather than the mere physical appearance

chiaroscuro (n)
in painting, the use of light and dark contrasts, especially to create a distinct mood

chiaroscuro woodcut (n)
woodblock printmaking technique in which two or more cut blocks are printed one atop another. One block delineates the contours of the subject; other blocks add tonal values.

Circe (n)
goddess who transforms Ulysses’ men into animals to keep them prisoners; later, when she realizes she cannot turn Ulysses into an animal, she helps him continue his journey home

Classical/Classicism (adj)
relating to ancient Greek or Roman art, architecture, or literature; commonly denoting rationality, stability, and balance of forms

coat of arms (n)
an arrangement of symbols in the shape of a shield that identifies an individual or family, especially when combined with armor

commission (n; v)
a work of art made through the funding or authority of a patron; to pay an artist or craftsman to create a work of art

composition (n)
the arrangement of elements, such as color, shape, and space, in a work of art

continuous narrative (n)
in art, an episodic representation of a story in which a certain character or characters appear in every scene, and there are no borders separating one episode from the next

contrapposto (n)
pose in art developed in Classical times and revived during the Renaissance in which the weight of the body is shifted to one leg, allowing the other leg to bend in a relaxed position and causing the hips to tilt

cool (adj)
in art, the range of colors between green and purple on the color wheel, or any color that has undertones of blue, green, or purple

Corinthian (adj)
the third order of Greek architecture, characterized by the presence of decorative leaves of the acanthus plant in a column capital—the uppermost portion of the column

Counter-Reformation (n)
16th- and 17th-century Roman Catholic movement that arose in response to the European Protestant Reformation; aggressive strategies were introduced to codify Catholic beliefs, to strengthen the Church, and to win back worshipers from Protestantism

Cubism (n)
early 20th-century art movement led by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) and Georges Braque (1882–1963) that used fragmented shapes to depict several views of the same subject simultaneously, emphasizing the basic geometry or structure of the subject

cyclops (n)
race of one-eyed giants in ancient Greek and Roman mythology. One of Ulysses’ adventures included a Cyclops named Polyphemos.

da Vinci, Leonardo (1452–1519)
Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, and designer; best known today for his portrait the Mona Lisa and revered as one of the most innovative and creative artist/inventors of his time.

Domitian (A.D.51–96)
Emperor of Rome from A.D. 81 to 96 who successfully completed the conquest of Britain and is known for his dictatorial rule

drypoint (n)
printmaking technique in which a sharp needle is used to scratch lines into a metal plate, which is then inked and printed under pressure. When the needle scratches the plate, it creates a burr on one side of the line; the burr catches ink, producing a soft, dark line in the printed impression.

Dürer, Albrecht (1471–1528)
German painter, printmaker, and draftsman of the Renaissance who was an important intermediary between the artists of Italy and Northern Europe, particularly through his printmaking. His compositions and technique served as a model for many artists throughout Europe.

engraving (n)
printmaking technique in which a tool called a burin is used to gouge lines or dots out of a metal plate, which is then inked and printed under pressure

epic (n)
long narrative oral or written poem that tells the story of a hero’s or heroine’s adventures

etching (n)
printmaking technique in which an image is cut into the surface of a metal plate through chemical acid erosion. The plate is first covered with a thin wax layer, called a ground, into which an artist draws the image with a pointed implement, revealing the metal plate underneath. The plate is submerged in acid, which bites the exposed metal into troughs, then inked and printed under pressure.

Flemish (adj)
referring to or deriving from the northern part of present-day Belgium, traditionally referred to as Flanders, in which the Dutch language is spoken.

foreground (n)
the objects or figures situated in the front of a composition, intended to exist close to the viewer (as opposed to background)

garniture (n)
a collection of matching pieces making up a suit of armor

genre (n)
scenes of anonymous figures engaged in everyday activities; a category of subject matter in the fine arts (for example, the genre of landscape painting)

gilded (adj)
covered with a thin layer of gold leaf

gorget (n)
a piece of armor that protects the throat

grayscale (n)
all of the possible shades of gray in between and including black and white

Greco-Roman (adj)
having both Greek and Roman (Classical) characteristics; inspired by the architecture or art of ancient Greece and Rome

Herod Antipas (c. 20 B.C.–c. A.D. 39)
Herod Antipas (son of King Herod the Great), governor of Galilee, who ordered the imprisonment and death of Saint John the Baptist; he later interrogated Christ before his crucifixion.

high-keyed (adj)
referring to bright colors free of gray, black, or dark hues; colors that approximate the range of colors seen on a sunny day

high relief (adj)
relief in which sculpted elements project out from the background, creating nearly three-dimensional forms

Holy Family (n)
in the Christian religion, Christ; his mother, the Virgin Mary; and her husband, Joseph (others may also be included, such as Elizabeth, the Virgin’s cousin, and her son, John the Baptist)

Holy Ghost (n)
also called the Holy Spirit; in the Christian religion, the third member of the Holy Trinity, with Father (God) and Son (Christ)

thought to be a poet of eighth-century B.C. Greece and the presumed author of the two epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Iliad tells the story of the 10-year Trojan War; the Odyssey tells the story of Ulysses’ return home to Ithaca after the Greek victory in the Trojan War.

horizon (n)
the line formed by the meeting of sky and earth

idealized (adj)
in art, that which is represented as perfect in form or character

Immaculate Conception (n)
part of Catholic doctrine that asserts that Mary, mother of Christ, was free from "original sin" because she was mystically conceived by her parents Joachim and Anna.

in the round (adj)
sculpture that is three-dimensional in form rather than attached to or supported by a flat background (as is relief sculpture)

incised (adj)
a linear design carved into a surface with a sharp implement

International Gothic (n)
or International Style; sculpture and painting that was the product of artistic exchanges between Northern Europe and Italy in the 14th-century characterized by attention to pattern, ornament, and elegantly elongated forms

jousting (n)
part of medieval tournaments in which two mounted knights fought using swords or lances

knight (n)
man of noble birth and member of the king’s core army who provided military protection to the king and his feudal lords.

landscape (n)
an image representing natural scenery, usually from a distant viewpoint

lost-wax method (adj)
the process of casting metal in which an object begins as a clay model. The model is first covered with wax that hardens as a thin shell and is then encased in an outer mold of thick clay. When the mold is completely dry, it is heated to melt the wax. Liquid bronze, copper, or another metal is then poured into the mold. After the metal has solidified, the cooled mold is opened, and the figure, a metal copy of the wax model, can be taken out, cleaned, and polished.

low relief (adj)
referring to sculpture or sculptural elements that are close to the support from which they are carved (as opposed to high relief); also known as bas-relief

lute (n)
a stringed instrument with a large pear-shaped body, popular in 16th- and 17th-century Europe

Mannerism (n)
designation for paintings and sculptures produced between about 1520 and 1580 (the later Renaissance) characterized by an interest in the distortion of formal conventions, exaggeration of expression, elongated proportions, enigmatic gestures, unusual colors, and an irrational treatment of space and light. Derived from the Italian word maniera, suggesting grace, playfulness, and formal beauty.

mantle (n)
a cloak or loose garment worn over the upper body

manuscript illumination (n)
images and associated decorative designs accompanying a handwritten text; produced by monks or artisans throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance

medium (n)
the material and technique with which a particular work is made, e.g. oil painting, bronze casting, ink drawing

Middle Ages/medieval (n; adj)
period in European history between Classical antiquity and the Renaissance (from about A.D. 500 to around 1500); of (or in the style of) the Middle Ages

Middle East (n)
geographic area bounded by Africa to the southwest, Europe to the northwest, and Asia to the east; including the present-day nations of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Israel

middle ground (n)
the portion of picture space between the foreground and background

modeling (n)
representation of depth and solidity in drawing, painting, or photography

narrative (n)
the representation in art or literature of a story or event

Neo-Stoicism (n)
16th-century revival of Classical Stoicism, a philosophy that celebrated nature and emphasized the importance of reason and self-discipline while rejecting emotion. Although they criticized superstition and corruption in the Roman Catholic Church, many Neo-Stoics remained faithful Christians.

New Testament (n)
portion of the Bible that treats the life of Christ and the period following; includes the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and the Book of Revelation

obelisk (n)
a tall, four-sided shaft that forms a pyramid at its tip; served as a type of religious monument in ancient Egypt. Examples of obelisks in Rome, Paris, and New York City were carried away from Egypt.

panorama (n)
an extended landscape, often displaying an unobstructed view in every direction

patron (n)
a person who hires an artist to create a work of art

pendant (n)
in art, one painting of a pair

Polyphemos (n)
the one-eyed cyclops who imprisoned Ulysses and his men in a cave. The crew blinds the giant with a hot poker and escapes tied to the bellies of Polyphemos’s sheep.

portrait (n)
the likeness of a person (especially a face) in a work of art

proof (n)
a test impression of an engraving, etching, or other print form

Protestant (adj)
relating to Christian sects founded in the 16th century by Reformation leader Martin Luther; Protestantism sought to reform the Church, denying the authority of the Pope and confirming the Bible as the only source of religious truth.

provincial (adj)
from a province or rural area rather than an urban center; characterized by relative simplicity and plainness

punched (adj)
consisting of repeated shapes tapped into a metal or metallic surface, such as gold leaf, using special tools

putti (n)
little angels

raking (adj)
at an angle

realism/realist (adj)
a general term used to describe the intent to depict the actual appearance of the natural world around us

Reformation (n)
16th-century Western European movement aimed at reforming the Catholic Church. Reforms questioned Catholic doctrine and sought to return to scriptural authority and individual faith and to rid the Church of worldly abuses. These reforms resulted in the foundation of the Protestant Church.

relief (n)
a piece of sculpture that features a carved, molded, or stamped design that stands out three-dimensionally from a background surface

Renaissance (n)
the French word renaissance, meaning "rebirth." In 15th- and 16th-century Europe, the revival of art, architecture, learning, and literature emphasized and often imitated Classical examples from ancient Greece and Rome. Although the Renaissance was initially centered in Italy, aspects of Renaissance culture also appeared in Northern Europe (particularly Flanders, the Netherlands, and Germany), especially during the 16th century.

Saint John the Baptist (c. 6 B.C.–c. A.D. 36)
Christ’s cousin who foretold the coming of Christ and later baptized him in the River Jordan. John was later beheaded due to the treachery of the young Salome and her mother Herodias, wife of King Herod.

Saint John the Evangelist
in Christianity, one of the 12 apostles, author of one of the four gospels and the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, and, with Saints Matthew, Mark, and Luke, one of the four Evangelists whose writings record the life and teachings of Christ

secular (adj)
relating to worldly rather than religious matters

sfumato (n)
from the Italian word fumo, meaning "smoke”; a painting technique used to create soft transitions between areas of light and shadow by blurring the edges of forms and depicting figures and objects as if in a smoke-like haze; derived from the writings and practice of the Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci

sirens (n, pl)
sea nymphs in Greek mythology who lure ships with enchanted singing toward their destruction. In the Odyssey, Ulysses was able to resist their song by lashing himself to the mast of his ship.

sitter (n)
in art, one who poses for a painting, sculpture, or other art form

still life (n)
a depiction of an inanimate object or objects, such as flowers or fruit, usually arranged by an artist

study (n)
in art, a preliminary sketch or loosely rendered version of a subject, usually created to prepare for the production of a final work

style (n)
a distinctive manner of expression (as in art, speech, or writing)

surcoat (n)
a sleeveless garment worn over armor

symbol (n)
something that stands for or represents something else; a visible sign of an abstract trait or idea (such as a nation’s flag)

tone (n)
the overall brightness of a work; the value, saturation, and intensity of color

Trojan War (n)
12th- or 13th-century B.C. war between the Trojans and Greeks; the conflict was brought about by the abduction of Helen, wife of the Greek king Menelaos, by Paris, a Trojan prince

Ulysses (n)
the Latinized name of Odysseus, main character of the Greek epic Odyssey by Homer

vantage point (n)
point of view; in a work of art, the position from which the artist or viewer observes that which is depicted

warm (adj)
in art, colors between red and yellow on the color wheel, or any color given red, orange, or yellow undertones