Glossary of Terms – R


Race, Ernest (1913 – 1964) An English textile and furniture designer, whose work mixed the traditional with modern and he was internationally acclaimed. He is best known for his comfortable and ingenious chairs, for example the BA Chair made in 1947 was made of cast aluminium.

radiogram A wireless set and gramophone with a single inbuilt loudspeaker, popular in Britain around 1930 – 1960.

raising A technique of making metal hollow ware. A disk that is flat and made of metal, is hammered over an anvil like stake to

gradually raise the sides to the required shape and depth.

raku Japanese pottery coated with a thick lead glaze. The colourings range from dark brown and light red to straw, green

and cream. Originally made in the 16th Century and being closely associated with the tea ceremony, it is still used in Japan today.

Ramsden Omar (1873 – 1939) A Silversmith born in Sheffield, associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. He specialised

in the design of gold and silver presentation and ceremonial pieces that include wine cups, plates and masers. In 1898 he

established a London workshop with silversmith Alwyn Charles Elison Carr, who executed Ramsden’s designs. Instead they

produced handmade designs arts and crafts and Celtic style objects in silver and other metals such as pewter and wrought iron.

In 1918 Alwyn Carr left the workshop, but Ramsden still produced Art Deco silver.

range tablesSets of identical small tables that can be fitted together to form one large table, made in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Raphael ware ee istoriato.

rapier A sword with a long, narrow, stiff blade designed for thrusting rather than cutting, often with an elaborate hilt and bar or cup to protect the hand. The weapon was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries.

ratafia glass A speciality glass used for drinking ratafia, an almond and fruit liqueur popular from the mid to late 18thC. It is flute shaped and sometimes known as a flute cordial.

rate mark A mark on postage stamps indicating the rate of postage to be recovered from the recipient; a device used before the introduction of the fixed rate penny postage in 1840.

rattan See cane work.

ravensbill See polearms.

Ravenscroft, George

(1618-81) British glass-maker who in 1673 was employed by the London Glass-Sellers’ Company to produce a ‘home-grown’ rival to Venetian cristallo. Initially his new flint glass was subject to grizzling, but by 1676 he claimed he had overcome this, and was allowed to impress his products with his own seal in the shape of a raven’s head. Although the problem was far from resolved – all known sealed pieces have since deteriorated – and Ravenscroft is no longer credited with the invention of lead crystal, he did produce some of the finest vessel-glass of the time.

Ravilious, Eric (1903-42) English engraver, ceramics decorator and designer of glassware and furniture. His best-known designs were for wedgwood pottery, 1936-9.

raw glazing See glaze.

reading chair Chair fitted with a small, adjustable surface on which to rest a book. The bookrest on 18thC examples was attached to the top rail on the back of the chair, and the occupant sat astride the seat, facing backwards. Mid-19thC reading chairs had swivel bookrests and candle brackets fitted to the arms. There are also small tables with adaptations for reading, such as a hinged top that can be angled. A late Victorian version has revolving book trays on a supporting pillar.

recoil escapement See escapement.

Red anchor period

(1752-8). The porcelain became a more consistent creamy-white. Although Meissen themes such as commedia dell’arte figures are apparent, the factory developed its own distinctive style and reached its peak in artistic design. Botanical painting and tureens modelled in the form of birds were outstanding features.

red spinel See corundum.

red stoneware Unglazed fine stoneware made by adding ground burnt flint to the clay paste for extra hardness. It was produced in the 17thC in yixing, China, and in the early 18thC by Böttger of meissen in experiments to make porcelain. It was widely used in Staffordshire potteries during the 18thC for vases, teapots and ornaments. Decoration included sprigging in white or black slip. A later refinement was wedgwood’s rosso antico in the 1760s.

reeding The converse of fluting – a relief decoration of parallel, convex ribs, or reeds. See decorative motifs.

refectory table The modern term for the predominant table design of the 15th to 17th centuries. Also known as joined or long tables, they are usually of oak and the top is joined to a fixed frame. Sturdy legs at the corners are linked by stretchers which doubled as footrests to avoid contact with cold stone floors. Refectory tables were common kitchen and farmhouse furniture until the 19thC.

regard jewellery 19thC rings and brooches set with gemstones whose initial letter spells out a word. For example ‘regard’-Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, Diamond. This acrostic theme was also used for personalised jewellery in which the wearer’s name was spelt out.

Régence style French style covering the regency of Philippe d’Orleans (1715-23), although evident c. 1710-30 – the beginnings of the early georgian period in Britain. It was lighter and less formal than the preceding Louis XIV style, and marked the beginnings of Rococo taste in France.

Regency style General term for several furniture and decorative styles found in Britain c. 1800-30. It was named after the Prince Regent (later George IV), who ruled for his father 1811-20, although it was established before and continued for a decade or so after this period.

regulator A weight-driven pendulum clock with the emphasis on accuracy of timekeeping rather than on ornament. Regulators are usually in the form of a longcase clock, with a temperature compensation facility for the pendulum, a deadbeat escapement, and no striking mechanism. Workshop regulators were made by the clock-maker for his own use, to set other clocks by. Table regulators are spring-driven with a deadbeat escapement and a regulator dial – one with minutes marked on the edge of the main dial and two smaller, separate dials for hours and seconds. See vienna regulator

Reichsadlerhumpen See humpen.

reign marks Marks in seal or script form on Chinese porcelain, giving the name of the emperor and usually the dynasty. Gradually, it became commonplace to mark a piece not with the current ruler’s name, but with an earlier emperor’s nien hao, or mark. This was sometimes out of respect to a previous period, sometimes to avoid punishment for the prohibited use of the reigning monarch’s name on wares not intended for his own use. As a result, ‘imitations’ far outnumber genuine reign marks.

relief Decoration that projects out from the surrounding surface. The terms bas, medium and high relief refer to the depth of the decoration.

remontoire Any driving force, such as a weight or spring, in a clock or watch that is automatically rewound at regular intervals by the mainspring of the movement. This rewinding facility results in a more regular driving force than could be provided by the mainspring itself; it has a similar function to the fusee but is more effective. A remontoire or constant force escapement incorporates a remontoire device to ensure constant force between the escape wheel and the balance.

Renaissance Revival of Classical ideals in European art and literature from the late 14th to early 17th centuries.

rent table See drum table.

Repairer Craftsman responsible for joining the separately cast or moulded parts of a ceramics figure into a complete piece.

Repeater A clock or watch with a striking mechanism activated at will, which tells the user the time without his actually having to look at the timepiece. Repeating devices were introduced by British clock-makers in the 168os and are still being made today. The mechanism is activated by a cord or lever to sound (or ‘repeat’) the last hour, quarter hour and subsequent minutes, and more rarely the last five minutes.

Repoussé A form of chasing on silver and other metals to provide intricate patterns and to sharpen detail. The technique involves first embossing (pushing out) the general shapes from the reverse of the piece to create a three-dimensional effect on the outer surface. The repoussé (pushed back) element comes in when the finer decorative details are added by selective pushing back of these raised surfaces from the front. The article is laid on – or if hollow, filled with-a firm yet yielding base of pitch and the design pounced or hammered in, using a wide variety of punches and other specialist tools to give different effects. Repoussé was used widely on late 16thand 17thC silver, and revived in the 19thC in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

Reproduction An honest re-creation of an earlier object, as opposed to a dishonest forgery.

Reredos See fireback.

Reseau See lace.

Reserve 1 An area on a piece of pottery or porcelain that is left free of – or ‘reserved’ from – ground colour ready for a painted decoration in enamel colours. The slight ridge where the ground ends might be concealed by a painted line, which also frames the design. The term also refers to an area on textiles that is left free of colour or pattern (see batik) . 2 Minimum price a seller at auction is prepared to accept.

Resist luster Metallic decoration, often in silver, applied to glazed pearlware (see creamware) and other ceramics in Britain from c. 1810-30. The design is painted or stencilled in wax, or some other material resistant to the lustre, and then fired.

Restauration style An adaptation of the French empire style from the time of the post-Revolution restoration to the throne of the French monarchy, 1815-30. Decorative wares became more brightly coloured and bois clair furniture, made of light-coloured woods (also known as style duchesse de Berry), was fashionable.

Restoration style Furniture style linked with Charles IIs reign, from the time of his restoration to the British throne (1660) until his death in 1685, or sometimes to the end of the l7thC.

Reticello glass

See latticing.

Reticulated Pierced, interlaced or interwoven to form a net or web-like pattern. In glassware this is achieved by: engraving or cutting; by the latticing technique; undercutting an openwork net (see cage-work) ; pincering strands of glass to form a basket-weave effect; or by covering glass with, or blowing it into, a wire netting (netted glassware). In ceramics and silver, see pierced decoration.

Reverse See obverse.

Reverse painting

See mirror painting.

Revolver Firearm with a turning cylinder that holds several cartridges. Although some examples were produced earlier, the weapon only became common from the mid-19thC.

Revolving chair Chair with a swivel seat. Revolving chairs existed as early as the 16thC, and adjustable-height music stools were introduced in the late 18thC. A revolving comb-back windsor chair was developed in the 1770s, and in the mid- 19thC in the USA a successful prototype with an adjustable back set the pattern for the next century. British versions were at first designed principally for invalids, but by the end of the 19thC had become desirable office furniture.

Rhinestone 1A colourless quartz much used by 19thC jewellers. 2 Term often used c. 1900 for multicoloured glass stones. 3 Modern term for any coloured glass paste.

rhodium A hard, durable silvery-white metallic element which is used to form high-temperature alloys with platinum or plated onto other metals. Many Victorian silver or gold brooches have been ‘modernised’ -and ruined – by rhodium plating to make them look like platinum.

Ricasso See sword.

Rice-grain Decoration used on Oriental porcelain from the 12thC, but particularly found in 18thC and modem Chinese wares. The effect of see-through ‘grains’ is created by making holes in the body of the pot before glazing and firing. Sometimes grains of rice were pressed into the vessel walls. On firing, these burned off, and the glaze flooded the holes.

Richardsons Glass-makers based at Wordsley near stourbridge 1829-1930. By the 1840s, the firm was an important producer of cased, transfer-printed, and cut glass and in the 1860s pioneered new engraving machines for complex patterns. They were one of the first firms to produce cameo glass successfully in the 1870s. The firm was finally taken over by thomas webb & sons in 1930.

Ridgway, Job (1759-1813) English potter who worked at swansea and leeds potteries before establishing a factory at Hanley, Staffordshire, in 1794 with his brother George (c. 1758-1823). The factory relocated to Shelton in 1802 and produced stone china and porcelain. His sons, John (1785-1860) and William (1788-1864), continued running the factory upon his death and produced bone china tableware, garden statuary and blue and white ware.

Rie, Lucie (b. 1902) Austrian-born art potter who moved to Britain in 1939 and was influenced by Bernard leach. Rie’s elegant and functional stoneware and porcelain, often conical or trumpet-shaped in form, are covered in either a very plain glaze, or in a bubbly thick glaze of almost volcanic appearance, heightened by the use of iron oxides. The thick glazes are not unlike those of Hans coper, with whom she shared a studio for many years.

Riesener, Jean-Henri

(1734-1806) Among the best known and most versatile of all French furniture-makers. German-born Riesener was appointed ébéniste to Louis XVI in 1774. He used gilt-bronze mounts and marquetry extensively as decoration. Riesener continued working through the French Revolution, removing all royal emblems from pieces of furniture, until 1801.

Rietveld, Gerrit

(1888-1964) Dutch architect-designer, the son of a joiner, who abandoned traditional methods of joinery in his furniture designs. His furniture is characteristic of the de stijl group, the Dutch artists’ association which he joined in 1919, resulting in pieces that are starkly geometric in line, rather like abstract sculptures. Natural wood surfaces are invariably painted in primary colours, the construction is deliberately left exposed, and sections are screwed together rather than joined. Following the worldwide economic depression of the 1930s, Rietveld designed inexpensive furniture typified by his crate chair, using simply cut sections of packing-case wood.

Rifle A firearm developed from the 15thC with a barrel which has spiral grooves cut into the bore – the rifling. This causes the bullet to spin, resulting in greater stability of flight and accuracy.

Rocking chair Chair resting on curved runners (known as bends) connected to the front and back feet. Rocking chairs were introduced in the USA and Britain in the 1760s, but it was the Americans, whose attitudes and tastes were more relaxed than those of the Georgians and Victorians, who led rocking-chair fashions over the next century.

Rockingham A Yorkshire pottery and porcelain factory on the estate of the Marquis of Rockingham, 1745-1842. It produced earthenware similar to that at leeds and some with a treacle-like glaze, including the lidless cadogan teapot. From 1826, Rockingham made fine-quality bone china tea and dessert services, vases, and well-modelled animals and figures. During the 1830s, extravagant floral decoration appeared particularly on ornamental ware.

Rococo European decorative style, a development of baroque, in the 1730s. Rococo is characterised by curving, asymmetrical motifs based on rock, shell, floral, leaf and other natural shapes. Chinese and Indian motifs are also common. Delicate carving emphasises the curving lines of furniture, and frames are swirling and elegant. The name ‘Rococo’ is derived from the French words rocaille (rockwork) and coquillage (shellwork). The style reached its peak in Britain c. 1740s and 50s, and was revived again in Britain and the USA in the early to mid-19thC.

Rod Thin stick of glass of a single colour. It is made by rolling a small gather of molten glass on a marver and then stretching it to the desired thinness. Rods may be moulded to give different shapes in cross-section (stars, hexagons, etc) but they are generally used in cylindrical form. Rods may be arranged in a pattern and fused together to make canes, cross-sections of which are used in millefiori and mosaic objects.

Roentgen, David

(1743-1807) German furniture-maker of the 18thC who specialised in sumptuous pieces, the earliest decorated with pictorial marquetry. He also used many mechanical devices in his furniture, such as built-in clocks and concealed drawers. Roentgen supplied furniture to both the French and Russian royal families, but was ruined by the French Revolution of 1789-99.

Rolex Watch company founded in London in 1905 by Swiss watchmaker Hans Wilsdorf (c.1881-1960). The company moved to Geneva in 1920. Rolex launched the ‘Oyster’ range of watches in 1926, and the ‘Prince’ range in the 1930s.

rolled gold A form of gold plating in which very thin sheets of gold – of any carat value – are fused at a high temperature to a base metal such as copper and then rolled to form a sheet of the required thickness, maintaining a uniform layer of gold throughout. Rolled-gold wire is made by enclosing a base-metal core within a rolled-gold tube and drawing out to the required degree of fineness. The process was introduced in the early 19thC, and applied to étuis and inexpensive jewellery.

Rolled paper work A late 18th and early 19th-century decorative technique which used tightly rolled strips of paper or card glued onto boxes, tea caddies and other small objects to form patterns.

Rollos, Philip

(fl. 1697-1721) London-based huguenot silversmith who produced very large, ornate silverware incorporating much cut-card work, gadrooning and cast figurative decoration from 1705. He was commissioned by British royalty, and made pieces for the general market.

Römer A German wide-bowled, green-tinted drinking glass with a thick hollow stem often decorated with prunts, atop a coiled foot. It was developed in the late 15th to early 16th centuries, but reached the height of its popularity from the late 17thC to c. 1825 and was widely copied throughout Europe. It was the glass from which the British rummer eventually evolved.

Rose cut See jewel cutting.

Rose medallion See canton.

Rosenthal German manufacturer of porcelain tablewares, founded 1879 and still one of Germany’s largest porcelain producers.

Rosewood Heavy, durable tropical hardwood, very dark brown with a rippled grain of near-black running through. The name comes from the fragrance released when the wood is cut. Rosewood was used for inlaid decoration in the 17thC, and as a veneer from the 18thC, but usually for small panels and for decorative banding. It was little used for the main body of a piece of furniture until the early 19thC. A related species first imported to Britain from Brazil in the late 17thC is kingwood or prince wood. It is rich deep brown but with purplish tones that give it the alternative name of violet wood. Kingwood was used as a veneer, for parquetry and cross-banding, and was particularly popular in France. See tulip wood.

Rosso antico 1 A type of red marble. 2 Red stoneware made from c. 1770 at the wedgwood factory.

Rouen One of the first French centres, during the 16thC, for the production of tin-glazed earthenware in the Italian maiolica tradition. This evolved into French faience, for which Rouen was the most influential centre by the close of the 17thC. Distinctive decorative styles were developed, including the formal, embroidery-like lambrequin (see decorative motifs) borders and style rayonnant. Tableware, ewers and other vessels at this time reflect the shapes found in silverware; they are blue and white, but the occasional touch of red was also used during the early 18thC. By the 1720s, the full range of high temperature colours was used for Chinese-style designs in famille-verte colours, and from 1740 Rococo-style garlands and shells framing pastoral scenes were dominant. Enamel colours were introduced in the 1770s in a bid to imitate porcelain decoration, but by the end of the century the industry was in decline due to competition from English cream ware.

Royal Dux Bohemian porcelain factory founded 1860 in Dux (now Duchov,) noted for its jugendstil decorative ware, much of which was exported to the USA. Typical of Dux ware are figures of water nymphs on shells, Amphora ware – vases often with handles in the form of sinuous female figures-busts, wall plaques and tiles. 1860

Rozenburg Pottery and porcelain factory founded 1883 near The Hague, Holland. The most notable early products are a kind of updated DELFT-style – blue and white ware with abstract decoration. The introduction of a fine eggshell earthenware in 1889 set the Rozenburg factory apart from its contemporaries. Shapes of Rozenburg pieces are distinctive too, with attenuated AMPHORA-like vases and clean, simple lines moving from curved to flat planes. Decoration was inspired by Javanese batik designs; it included flowers, birds and foliage and was executed in fresh overglaze colours.

Ruby See corundum.

Ruby glass Glass containing copper oxide, or occasionally gold oxide, to give a rich, brilliant red colour, much used for decorative vases and jugs. The technique for its manufacture was invented in the 17thC and is still used today.

Rug In Britain and other parts of Europe, a piece of carpet that is small enough to hang on a wall, or that measures up to 6 ft (1.8 m) long; anything larger than this is classified as a carpet. In practice the terms are almost interchangeable.

Ruhlmann, Emile-Jacques

(1879-1933) French cabinet-maker and interior decorator of the art deco era, who also designed porcelain, fabrics and wallpapers. His pre-1925 furniture was based on neoclassical forms. Later work was influenced by cubist art, and in the 1930s featured tubular steel and plastics.

Rule joint See hinge.

Rummer Large-bowled, shortish-stemmed drinking glass for long drinks such as beer and cider.

Rundell, Phillip

(1743-1827) Founder of Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, the most successful English firm of silver and goldsmiths in the first half of the 19thC. The firm became goldsmiths to King George III and produced a wide range of silverware for the aristocracy.

Runners A term for long, narrow Oriental carpets made for export to the West from the 19thC. Those made in Persia (Iran) are known as kenares.

Ruskin pottery Art pottery founded 1898 by William Howson Taylor (1876-1935) at Smethwick, near Birmingham. The pottery specialised in making Chinese-style vases decorated with flambé, mottled or monochrome glazes. Taylor also experimented with high-temperature and lustre glazes to achieve a variety of colours, textures and patterns across a wide range of products including useful wares, candlesticks, hatpins, buttons and cufflinks. The pottery remained active until 1935.

Russell, Sir Gordon

(1892-1980) Influential 20thC furniture designer and manufacturer linked with the British modern movement. His Russell Workshops in Broadway, Worcestershire, produced both his own machine-made furniture based on traditional English designs (such as ladder-back rush-seated chairs) in yew and oak, and designs by other designers such as Alvar aalto and the thonet brothers.

Russia leather Leather treated with an oil distilled from birch bark to make it particularly hard-wearing. It was used for upholstery in the late 17thC and throughout the 18thC in Britain and the USA.

Rustic furniture Furniture, particularly chairs, with framework or parts in the form of tree branches popular in the mid-18thC. Actual branches – of yew or fruitwood, for example – were cut and stripped of bark to form table or chair legs, or the texture and form of branches was imitated in elaborate carving. In the 19thC, versions were made in cast iron, stone ware and terracotta, as well as wood. The term also refers to furniture made by amateurs for use in farmhouses and farm cottages.

Ryal See noble.