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This had me flummoxed, so I googled it. It is a real word.

In the Virginia Historical Society’s new exhibition, For the Love of Beauty: The Collections of Lora and Claiborne Robins, there are a lot of other specific words that only a master in the decorative arts might know. After feeling a little foolish for my ignorance, I asked the curator, Bill Rasmussen, if we could take the opportunity to explain some of them in the label copy. Rather than define the terms in a denotative way, we decided to give visual examples to clearly show to what these terms refer.

Using line drawings, we delineated structural and decorative elements of a few of the pieces of furniture in the exhibition, particularly those that possessed elements with uncommon names like “volute,” “splat,” “flame on urn finial,” and “gadrooning.”

These pieces of colonial American furniture are all made by hand. And it is because of the maker’s skill that they are prized by academics and collectors. If you look carefully around the exhibitions at the VHS, you will find other examples of such craftsmanship.

I think I even found gadrooning on a silver cup.

Drew Gladwell is the Exhibit Designer at the Virginia Historical Society.

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