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Art Terms...G - L


"Monk Studying" 1885






GENRE  [MF/F; 1770]  In art, the depiction of human activity among the "common" folks (whatever that means; lines were more clearly drawn in the 19th century), generally associated with the academic representational realism mixed with the occasional narrative. Blame it on the Dutch, who were the masters of the form beginning in the 17th century and who, for the first time in history, succeeded (though probably not consciously) in sustaining the separation of religiosity from the more secular temperment. With much resistance among the early 19th cen-tury academics, who favored "history painting", and the allegorical, mytho-logical or aristocratic portraiture (hold overs from the 18th century), both public and patron sentiment evolved in closer proximity to the sentimental appeal of the new trade periodicals, such as the new "Art Journal"/ London (1839), sponsored by Prince Albert and the Queen herself, the new "Illustra-ted London News', and in France, the "Gazette des Beaux-Arts" (1859), and in America, the "Harper's Weekly". (As distinguished from, click :  "allegory"  and "history painting")

GERM, THE  More than a day late and a sterling pound short, this blink of the eye Pre-Raphaelite periodical lasted less than four months, with 4 numbers in 1851. Dante's brother/ founder/ editor William Rossetti made a fledgling attempt to promote the Pre-Raphaelite "Brotherhood" agenda with the use of member poetry (including sister Christina Rossetti, arguably a better poet than Dante a painter!) which nevertheless aided, in a small way, the "germination" of a major movement whose influence, unbe-knownst to its followers, would last well into the 20th century. (See the "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood")

GESSO  [L/It, lit., "gypsum"; 1596]  "Pure" white plaster of paris or pow-dered gypsum mixed with glue to pro-vide a base for gilding or painting, as was commonly used by the Pre-Rapha-elites to promote clarity of color.

GILDING  [OE/ME; 14thC)  Application of a thin layer of metal, usually but not exclusively gold, on picture frames or sculpture. In the 19th century this laborious process was done by a new method of electrolysis. Today, wanna-be antique "dealers", particularly in the U.S., nortoriously try to short-circuit this process and virtu-ally ruin the intrinsic value of count-less, otherwise beautiful antique frames by applying cheap housepaint over damaged gilt; many collectors simply cannot afford the time (or cost) to handle the conservation and removal of that paint, given the initial cost of collecting. (Click : "electrolysis")

GOLDEN MEAN  [1587] / GOLDEN SECTION [1875], Rule of  [Greece; c.450 BCA]  AKA : "Hey you...move that tree !!"... [c.1961] Called a "precious jewel" by Johannes Kepler, now simply (but not so simple) called the "Golden Ratio", the term(s) in art apply to, essentially, an inherently mathematical way of seeing which ultimately lends balance to a work of art. The rule describes the mathematical relationship between 3 points in a straight line; (approximate diagram below):

A                     B                           C

^                     ^                           ^

[ ratio AC : BC = BC : AB ]

There's an orphan hybrid of this rule, (apparently first realized by J.T. Smith in 1797), that I am partial to called the "Rule of Thirds : An image is divided into nine equal sections by two vertical and two horizontal lines, wherein four points of intersection are formed at the center section. If the artist places the essential elements of any picture at/around/near the de-fining four points of intersection, the idea is he'll have a balanced compo-sition. In fact he will have a balanced composition, and it is solely because, over 2500 years ago, the Greeks dis-covered a natural symmetry which "pleases the eye". Suffice to say that I confirmed the Greek observation at the early age of 13; upon receiving my first Brownie Starmite camera, I enquired upon some Turkish locals if they could "move that tree". It did not work... mayhap they could not speak English... well, just imagine that you're moving that tree, and the old Greek " Rule of Golden Mean" will come naturally to you.

GOTHIC REVIVAL (19TH/20TH century)   (See also : "Neo-Gothic" Revival)


Graphic Arts




Group Portrait



Hague School



History Painting







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