The terms in the glossary are used throughout the database and the supporting materials. Most of the definitions are derived from the Getty’s Art and Architecture Thesaurus.

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Aerial views
Designates views achieved by photographing from an aircraft or other high locations. For nonphotographic depictions with high viewpoints, see bird's-eye views.
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Walkways bordered by formally planted trees, clipped hedges, or shrubs; usually found in formal gardens or parks.
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Animal husbandry
Science and practice of breeding, raising, feeding, and tending domestic animals, especially but not exclusively farm animals, including silkworms.
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Interest in or devotion to things of the past, especially of ancient times. The term implies admiration of a style or object simply because it is old.
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Botanical gardens devoted to the cultivation and exhibition of trees and other woody plants, rare or otherwise.

Light, open structures either formed from trees, shrubs, or vines closely planted and twined together to be self-supporting or formed from a latticework frame covered with plant materials; generally less extensive and less substantial than pergolas.
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A range of arches raised on columns or piers that may be either freestanding or attached to a wall. This term may also designate covered walks with such lines of arches along one or both sides.
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The spanning of an opening by means other than that of a lintel.
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Atriums (Roman halls)
The main inner halls of Roman houses having a compluvium (opening in the roof) for rainwater and an impluvium (rectangular basin) to collect the water.
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Mechanical figures or contrivances, as toys, amusements, and in clocks, constructed to move as if by their own power, generally by intricate hidden mechanisms; known since at least the Hellenistic period. [view larger image]

Houses, enclosures, or large cages for confining live birds; distinguished from birdhouses, which house birds but do not confine them.
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Axes (open spaces)
In landscape design, a central, straight line around which portions of the design are more or less symmetrically located.
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Railed platforms projecting from the exterior walls of buildings.
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Parapets or low screens composed of balusters and carrying a rail or other horizontal member that is usually heavier in proportion to the balusters themselves.
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Barrel vaults
Vaults of plain, semicircular cross sections supported by parallel walls or arcades.
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Religious or secular buildings characterized by an oblong plan divided into a nave with two or more side aisles, the former higher and wider than the latter and lit by clerestory windows; usually terminated by an apse.
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Fortified parapets with alternate solid parts and openings. Also known as crenellations. [view larger image]

Rooftop pavilions or small lookout towers intended for the enjoyment of a view. For rooftop structures that are primarily ornamental, see cupolas; for small pavilions, in a garden setting, intended for enjoyment of a view, see pavilions.
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An arched trellis, similar to a pergola, for climbing plants, also closely planted trees trained to form an arched foliage-covered walkway. This French term is derived from cradle, probably because antique cradles have a similar deeply arched form. See also arbors. [view larger image]

Bird's-eye views
Use with reference to nonphotographic depictions having a viewpoint well above normal eye level. For photographs, see aerial views.
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In France, farmlands made by lines of trees and hedges into small fields.
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A small compartment of trees within an Italian garden, usually found near the house and often planted according to a regular plan. [view larger image]

The Italian term for a wooded grove within a garden. See also boskets.
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Boskets (bosquets)
Garden areas composed of ornamental groupings of trees pierced by walkways. The French term for a wooded grove within a garden. See also boscos.
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Botanical gardens
Primarily outdoor areas where a variety of plants are grown and displayed for scientific, educational, or artistic purposes.

Bowling greens
Designates closely mown, level pieces of ground reserved for the playing of lawn bowls. [view larger image]

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Supporting members serving the function of a pier, column, or pilaster and carved or molded into the form of a draped female human figure.
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Man-made stepped waterfalls, whether naturalistic or architectural in form. For similar natural or highly naturalistic features, see waterfalls. [view larger image]

Casinos (garden structures)
A term referring mostly to a small pavilion or lodge on the grounds of an Italian villa garden. Usually casino denotes a summerhouse for dining and refreshment some distance from the principal villa residence; but in cases where a villa might be used simply for a day's sojourn, it signifies the pleasure pavilion that serves as its principal architectural structure. [view larger image]

Catena d'acqua
The Italian term for water chain, an ornamental inclined channel designed to catch and animate the water falling from one shallow basin into another. See water chains. [view larger image]

Large country houses in France, which were usually fortified before the sixteenth century.
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Classical revival
Late 18th- to early 20th-century architecture and ornament based relatively closely on ancient classical forms. [view larger image]

Rows of columns supporting an entablature and often one side of a roof. Includes spaces behind such a feature when they are long and used for circulation.
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Greenhouses or mostly glazed rooms, devoted to growing and displaying plants and attached to a residence. [view larger image]

Corinthian order
Architectural order characterized by a capital having a bell-shaped echinus decorated with a combination of spiral and plant, usually acanthus motifs.
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Uncovered areas, surrounded or partially surrounded by the walls of a building.
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See battlements.

Small structures built on the ridges of roofs, particularly common in American architecture; when these structures are intended to be used as lookouts, prefer belvederes. [view larger image]

Corridors or galleries in Roman architecture with windowlike openings, whether subterranean or above ground. [view larger image]

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Structural elements, usually resembling spheres or portions of spheres, exerting equal thrust in all directions. [view larger image]

Doric order
Architectural order characterized by columns generally without bases, relatively simple capitals, and a frieze composed of alternating triglyphs and metopes. [view larger image]

Birdhouses, often quite large, for doves or pigeons, usually having small interior niches to facilitate nesting and breeding. [view larger image]


Elaborated superstructures carried by the columns in classical architecture, horizontally divided into architrave, frieze, and cornice. Use also for similar features in other contexts, such as along the upper portions of walls. [view larger image]

A fruit tree that is placed against a wall or other structure and trained, through pruning and manipulation of its branches, to grow in a flat plane, usually in a symmetrical fashion. The term espalier is derived from spalla, meaning shoulder in Italian. [view larger image]

Semicircular outdoor seats, usually of stone or concrete. [view larger image]

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Exterior faces of a building that are substantially in one plane and seem to have been designed with special regard to their conspicuousness or association with entrance. [view larger image]

Fermes ornée
The French term for ornamental farm used by the English after Stephen Switzer appropriated it in The Nobleman, Gentleman, and Gardener's Recreation (1715) to promote the arrangement of agricultural estates as aesthetically pleasing compositions in which, typically, the hedgerows separating fields were enhanced with shrubs, vines, and flowers, an occasional monument was placed in a manner calculated to provoke poetic association, and a circuit drive laid out to enable movement through the landscape. [view larger image]

Courts forming an entrance plaza for a single building or several buildings in a group. [view larger image]

Structures with apertures designed to allow water to spout or flow periodically or continuously, as for amenity or public access. [view larger image]

Fresco painting
Mural painting technique in which permanent limeproof pigments, dispersed in water, are painted on freshly laid lime plaster. [view larger image]

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Structures at, near, or over entrance gateways, usually containing a gatekeeper’s dwelling. [view larger image]

Giardini segreti
Small private gardens, primarily those found accompanying Italian Renaissance villas, discreetly sited, but not secret, set near the house and designed as intimate places for entertaining and reflection away from the public gaze. [view larger image]

Giocchi d'acqua
The Italian term for water games. Giocchi d'acqua were fountain effects designed by hydraulic engineers during the Renaissance to add an element of amusement to the garden experience as visitors, who unintentionally activated jets of water from hidden sources, were treated to surprise drenchings as a practical joke great house In England, the palatial mansion of an aristocratic country estate. See also water tricks. [view larger image]

Gothic revival
Refers mainly to the style in English and American architecture and decorative arts from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century. The style is characterized by the use of rosettes, pinnacles, tracery, foils, and polychrome effects inspired by Gothic architecture and reproduced with the aim of historical accuracy. [view larger image]

Storehouses or other repositories for grain, especially after it has been threshed or husked; sometimes also used to store corn. [view larger image]

Structures enclosed by glass and devoted to the cultivation and protection of plants out of season. [view larger image]

Artificial caverns, usually with fountains and other waterworks and decorated with rock and shell work. Known to have been a feature of ancient Roman gardens, it was revived in the Renaissance; for the natural features, use “caves” or“caverns.” [view larger image]

; Groves
Groups of trees, often of a single species, smaller than forests in extent, growing naturally or planted in formation, and generally with little or no undergrowth.
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Barriers in the form of trenches or sunken fences; usually used to prevent livestock from crossing. [view larger image]

Plantings of bushes or woody plants in a row, usually as fences, dividers, or windbreaks. [view larger image]

Herbaceous borders
In gardens a planter or flower bed edge that features annual or other leafy, nonwoody foliage plants. [view larger image]

Sculpture in the form of a head, bust, or half figure, supported by, as if growing out of, a pillar or tapering pilaster, and often exhibiting a phallus below; originally usually depicting the Greek god Hermes. [view larger image]

Hippodromes (garden structures)
Garden structures imitating the form of ancient Greek oblong enclosures curved at one end and built for horse and chariot racing. [view larger image]

Intensive and extensive cultivation of garden plants including fruits, vegetables, flower crops, and landscape and nursery crops. [view larger image]

Hunting lodges
Temporary residences used during hunting trips. [view larger image]

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Ornamental decoration and illustrations in manuscripts and in some early printed books if done by hand. [view larger image]

Initials (layout features)
The first letter of a text or section of text when it is emphasized, usually by making it significantly larger than the following text. [view larger image]

Ionic order
Architectural order characterized by capitals with volutes, richly carved moldings, and columns with bases. [view larger image]

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Knot gardens
Intricately designed gardens in which ground cover, low shrubs, or colored earths are arranged in interlacing patterns. [view larger image]


Landscape gardens
Grounds laid out so as to produce the effect of natural scenery.
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Networks of small light bars of wood, metal, or other material crossing at regular intervals, usually diagonally.
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Areas of cultivated grass or other ground cover maintained for aesthetic quality or recreation. [view larger image]

Within an Italian garden, a walled garden filled with potted lemon trees.
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Locus amoenus
The Latin term for a pleasant and delightful place; used in antiquity and the Renaissance to signify a rural or garden retreat of distinctive beauty.

Covered, roomlike spaces, open to the outdoors usually through arcades or colonnades; may be contained within or adjacent to buildings. [view larger image]

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Handwritten documents as distinguisehd from those published or otherwise printed, as in the cases of typed personal letters or a typescript from which printed versions are made. [view larger image]

Mechanical arts
In medieval times, practical areas of knowledge such as weaponry, military science, navigation, hunting, medicine, and construction arts. [view larger image]

Places where collections of wild or unusual animals are kept or exhibited.
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Mixed cultivation (coltura promiscua)
Intense farming of grains with fruit or willow grees at its edges supporting the vines. [view larger image]

Deep, wide defensive ditches surrounding towns, castles, or houses and usually filled with water. [view larger image]


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Ancient Roman spectacles representing naval battles. A Renaissance garden feature consisting of a a flooded basin designed to function as a theater where mock naval battles were held. [view larger image]

Spaces or structures with fountains embellished with statues, pools, or plants and used for relaxation. [view larger image]

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Tall, slender, four-sided, usually monolithic stone shafts which taper upward and end in a pyramidal tip. [view larger image]

Small round or oval openings, such as windows in a wall or openings in the crown of a dome. [view larger image]

Denoting industrious leisure comprising worthwhile mental and physical pursuits away from the distractions of urban business, politics, and society. Otium as a concept originated with ancient Roman villa owners and was practiced by proprietors of rural estates in subsequent societies where civilized country life was equated with virtue and refinement.

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Parks (grounds)
Enclosed, more or less carefully preserved, and extensive woodland and pasture attached to substantial residences; especially in England and British colonies.
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Parks (recreation areas)
Permanently dedicated public recreation areas generally characterized by their natural, historic, or landscape features; often administered by governmental agencies. [view larger image]

Formally arranged flower beds, planters, or boxed sections of gardens, often set with raised borders and in different shapes. See also parterres de broderie.
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Parterres de broderie
The French term signifying an intricate ground-plane design in gravel and herbs, boxwood, or clipped grass, featuring decorative scrolls, palmettes, and arabesques, often with the addition of a monogram. These elements may bear some resemblance to embroidery. See also parterres. [view larger image]

Patte d'oies
Three avenues radiating in the form of a goose foot from a central point. See also trivio. [view larger image]

Pavilions (garden structures)
Light, sometimes ornamental, structures in gardens, parks, or places of recreation that are used for entertainment or shelter. [view larger image]

Garden structures with open wood-framed roofs, often latticed, supported by regularly spaced posts or columns; often covered by climbing plants such as vines or roses, shading a walk or passageway. Distinguished from arbors, which are less extensive in extent and structure. [view larger image]

Colonnades surrounding a building, such as a Greek temple, and Roman courtyards surrounded by a colonnade. [view larger image]

Peristyles (Roman courtyards)
The court toward the back of a Roman house, commonly with a small garden surrounded by a colonnade. [view larger image]

In Italian cities and towns, open public spaces usually surrounded by buildings. [view larger image]

Shallow piers or rectangular columns projecting only slightly from a wall and, in classical architecture, conforming with one of the orders. [view larger image]

Planters (containers)
Containers in which plants are grown or placed for decorative purposes.
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Planned communities
New urban entities consisting of a combination of residential, commercial, social, educational, and/or recreational areas, incorporated or unincorporated, but of smaller scope than municipalities. [view larger image]

Pleasure gardens
Gardens, whether public or private, intended for enjoyment and amusement.
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Pools (artificial)
Designates artificial areas of water, usually of geometric shape, incorporated into fountains or other garden designs. For pools specifically designed to reflect buildings or other structures, see reflecting pools. [view larger image]

Use to designate roofed spaces, open along two or more sides and adjunct to a building, commonly serving either to shelter an entrance or used as living space. [view larger image]

Impressive, monumental entrances, gateways, or doorways usually to buildings or courtyards, especially those emphasized by stately architectural treatment.
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Roofed porchlike spaces, open along at least one side and usually associated with an entrance, supported by columns and often surmounted by a pediment; porticoes may project from the main building mass or be recessed in it. [view larger image]

Monumental entrances to sacred enclosures. [view larger image]

Prospects (views)
Usually extensive or commanding views of landscapes. [view larger image]

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Rectangular grassy or paved areas surrounded by buildings, generally of an academic or civic nature. Distinguished from “courtyards,” which generally fall within the bounds of a single building. [view larger image]

Enclosed Roman courtyards with porticoes on all four sides.[view larger image]

A regular arrangement of five trees or other vertical elements, four of which form the angles of a square or rectangle, while the fifth serves to mark its center. The term often denotes a regular arrangement of trees set in a pattern composed of multiple units of five. When the arrangement is thus used repetitively in the planting of a bosket, the resulting quincunx of trees appears as multiple rows set on a running diagonal when viewed at a 45-degree angle; read from a straight-on position, the rows assume a staggered pattern. [view larger image]

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In seventeenth-century Italian gardens, a series of parallel hedges to support the nets used to trap birds.

Sloping floors or walks leading from one level to another. [view larger image]

Reflecting pools
Designates artificial areas of water, usually of geometric shape, specifically designed and located so as to mirror buildings or other structures.
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Places or receptacles where water is accumulated and retained until needed.
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Retaining walls
Walls that are constructed to resist lateral loads, such as walls that hold back banks of earth. [view larger image]

Rotundas (buildings)
Round buildings, especially those that are round both outside and inside and covered by domes. [view larger image]

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Low-growing, woody perennials characterized by several branches at the base and by a lack of conspicuous trunks; generally restricted to plants less than six meters high. [view larger image]

Sight lines
Lines that define an unimpeded field of vision, as within rooms or open spaces or along city streets. [view larger image]

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Religious buildings dedicated to the service of a deity or deities, often housing a cult image; not used for such Christian or Islamic religious buildings. [view larger image]

Temples (garden structures)
Garden structures resembling religious buildings dedicated to the service of a deity or deities. [view larger image]

Circular buildings of classical date, with or without a peristyle. [view larger image]

Trees or shrubs pruned and trained into various geometric, zoomorphic, or fantastic shapes. [view larger image]

Topography (image-making)
Art or practice of the accurate graphic delineation of the natural and man-made surface features of a specific urban area, tract of land, or other place, especially so as to show their relative positions and elevations. [view larger image]

Usually detached or isolated buildings or other structures high in proportion to their lateral dimensions. Their function was originally defensive, but in gardens they can function as belvederes providing a view into the landscape. [view larger image]

Formal and systematic written expositions of the principles of a subject, generally longer and more detailed than essays. [view larger image]

Small arbors, often only two-dimensional, generally used to support climbing plants or as sunshades. [view larger image]

Triclinia (rooms)
Dining rooms in Roman houses; usually furnished with a low table and surrounded on three sides by couches. [view larger image]

Triumphal Arches (garden structures)
Garden entrances in the form of the free-standing monumental gateways that originated in Rome in the second century BCE as temporary structures to celebrate the triumphal entrance of victorious generals. Beginning in the late first century BCE they were erected in stone as permanent commemorative structures. [view larger image]

Three avenues radiating from a single point called in French a patte d'oie, or goose foot. See also patte d'oie. [view larger image]

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Large or decorative vessels, especially ones with an ornamental foot or pedestal, that usually have a mouth that is smaller than the body, and which often have two side handles. [view larger image]


Vessels of varying shape and size, but usually taller than they are wide, and often cylindrical. Used mainly to hold flowers or for ornamental purposes. [view larger image]

Villa suburbanae
Often palatial buildings of the Italian Renaissance located just outside town, suitable for spending the day but usually without bedrooms. [view larger image]

Villa urbanae
Roman country houses located near the city and serving recreational, not agricultural, purposes. [view larger image]

A sojourn at a Renaissance villa or country estate, usually occurring during the summer season. [view larger image]



Water chains
A series of intertwined or chained pools channeling falling water down stepped inclines; often elaborately sculpted, especially as found in Italian, sixteenth-century formal gardens. [view larger image]

Water tricks
Automata, water jets, or other devices designed to spray, soak, and surprise unwary garden visitor. Generally activated by hidden, usually pressure-sensitive, levers, springs, or similar triggers; popular especially during the Renaissance. [view larger image]

May be used for artificial waterfalls only if highly naturalistic in form and context; otherwise see cascades or fountains. [view larger image]

Wattled fences
A fence made of interwoven rods, poles, or branches commonly used as an enclosure in the middle ages. [view larger image]

A device for tapping the energy of the wind; it typically also refers to the building or structure supporting or housing the device. Characteristically, the device operates by means of a rotating shaft on which sails are mounted or placed at an angle so that the force of wind against them causes rotation, which in turn produced energy. Windmills were traditionally used chiefly in flat districts for operating a mill to grind grain, for pumping water, or for creating electricity. The older and most characteristic European form consists of a conical mill-house with a dome or cap supporting four sails. The more modern American form consists of a disk of sails mounted on a framework of girders, and is used chiefly for pumping or sawing. [view larger image]

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