Basse-taille – Design Term

Basse-taille is a method for enamelling the graves or graves low-reliefs on a metal surface, typically gold or silver, and then covers it with translucent glazed enamel. (French: ‘low-cut’) This technique dramatises the play of light and shadow over the low-cut design and also gives the item a tone of brilliance. Base-taille enamelwork, produced in Italy in the 13th century, was particularly common during the Gothic and Renaissance periods in Europe.

Basse-taille. Quatrilobed Plaque
Basse-taille. Quatrilobed Plaque (pair): The Annunciation and The Descent from the Cross, circa 1350-1400. (French), probably by. (Photo by Heritage Arts/Heritage Images via Getty Images)

Technique

The method of making basse-tail enamel started by marking the outline of the pattern and the main internal outlines of the gold with a tool called a “tracer”. The interior was then worked, either with chasing tools, hammering and punching instead of cutting or with chisels, to create a shallow recess to retain the enamel. The more important parts of the design were modelled by changing the depth of the surface to produce different colour intensity when translucent enamel was added. For example, in the Royal Gold Cup, gold under drapery folds frequently rises close to the surface to create paler highlights. 

Medallion: The Last Supper, late 1400s. France, 15th century. Basse-taille enamel on silver
Medallion: The Last Supper, late 1400s. France, 15th century. Basse-taille enamel on silver; diameter: 5.8 cm (2 5/16 in.). (Photo by: Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In many of the recessed areas, more decoration has been applied either through engraving or by punching through a transparent enamel, or by facing the background so that the reflections change subtly as the viewing angle changes. Most of the background areas of the enamelled scenes were painted in the same wayThe surfaces were eventually smoothed, done well and polished, maybe including scratching bumps on the back of the metal. 

The enamel lay flush with the gold surfaces; it was a preparation of finely ground glass paste applied with great care to the prepared recessed areas, and then fired. When various enamel colours meet each other with a neat border, this was done by firing one colour with a gum tragacanth retaining border before adding the next. The difficulty was also increased by adding tints of a different colour to the base hue of the enamel before firing so that the added colour gradually blends into the background colour around the edges of the tinted patch. This is mainly used as in-ground areas, rocks and trees, on “flux” or colourless enamel. Flux was also used for flesh areas in the Royal Gold Cup as it darkens slightly on a gold backdrop as it is challenging to get a suitable skin colour. By adding tiny particles of copper, silver and gold to the glass, the rouge clair or “ruby glass” red, used so effectively here was produced. After firing, the enamel was polished with the metal around it which was possibly the last to be decorated.

Source

Basse-taille – HiSoUR – Hi So You Are. https://www.hisour.com/basse-taille-51726/

Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Basse-taille. Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/art/basse-taille.

Wikipedia contributors. (2020, December 7). Basse-taille. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:47, December 19, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Basse-taille&oldid=992777032

More Design Terms

  • Affichiste French for Poster Designer

    Affichiste French for Poster Designer

    Affichiste. Name (literally ‘poster designer’) taken by the French artists and photographers Raymond Hains (1926-) and Jacques de la Villeglé (1926-), who met in 1949 and created a technique to create collages from pieces of torn-down posters during the early 1950s. These works, which they displayed for the first time in 1957, were called affiches lacérées (torn posters). Read More →

  • Minimalism – Less is More

    Minimalism – Less is More

    Minimalism is an art historical and critical term. The purest forms of Minimalism include cubes and spheres, plain, unadorned surfaces, and solid colours. Adolf Loos’ famous quote, “Ornament is a Crime,” has become catchphrases for the minimalist design movement.Read More →

  • ‘Moderne’ Style of Art Deco Popular in the 20s & 30s

    ‘Moderne’ Style of Art Deco Popular in the 20s & 30s

    Moderne was a decorative style that was mostly about how things looked on the outside. Moderne architecture was most noticeable in public buildings like skyscrapers and movie theatres. Postmodernism later brought back a lot of the styles that were part of the moderne movement.Read More →

  • Slipware Pottery – what is it?

    Slipware Pottery – what is it?

    Slipware is pottery known by its primary decorating method in which slip is added before firing by dipping, painting or splashing on the leather-hard clay body surface. Slip is an aqueous clay body suspension that is a combination of clays and other minerals, such as quartz, feldspar, and mica.Read More →

  • Achilles Shield – Dictionary of Silverware

    Achilles Shield – Dictionary of Silverware

    A silver-gilt convex shield with a sizable central medallion depicting the shield of encrusted iron made by the god Hephaestus for Achilles at Troy, as it is described by Homer in Book 18 of the Iliad. The medallion, which depicts in high relief a figure of the Sun (Apollo) standing in a quadriga (a chariot drawn by four horses), is within a broad border decorated with a continuous frieze.Read More →

  • Academic Style – Dictionary of Silverware

    Academic Style – Dictionary of Silverware

    A style of decoration, developed in the United States, based on the copying of earlier English and French styles. The style was in the tradition of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, the designs being precise and academic. It was introduced to flatware in the 1880s, initiated at the Gorham Company and occurs in hollow ware from the late 1880s, its use continued into the 1920s.Read More →

  • Ablution basin – 📖 Dictionary of Silverware

    Ablution basin – 📖 Dictionary of Silverware

    Ablution basin. A type of basin for holding water intended: (1) in ecclesiastical usage, for rinsing the hands or some object of church plate, such as a chalice; or (2) in secular usage, for rinsing the fingers at the dinner table (sometimes called a rose-water basin). Its founder donated two ecclesiastical ablution basins in 1515-16 to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Bishop Richard Fox. See alms dish.Read More →

  • Anatomy of a Hallmark 🤔

    Anatomy of a Hallmark 🤔

    A hallmark is a symbol or device struck at an assay office on gold or silver, indicating that article conforms to legal standards of manufacture established by the monarch, local guilds, government etc. Literally, mark applied at Goldsmith’s Hall (London assay office since 1300) but extended to cover e.g. all five stamps found on Victorian silver until 1890: assay office mark specific to each assay office; Read More →

  • Pedestal Table inspired by 🏛️ classical architecture

    Pedestal Table inspired by 🏛️ classical architecture

    A pedestable table is originally the base support of a column, in classical architecture. A pedestal in furniture may have one of four definitions: Read More →

  • Lithography (Design Term)

    Lithography (Design Term)

    A method of printing from a design drawn directly on a slab of stone or other suitable material. The design is not raised in relief as in woodcut or incised as in line engraving, but drawn on a smooth printing surface. Initially, this surface was provided with a slab of unique limestone, but metal (usually zinc or aluminium) or more recently plastic sheets were prefered because they are less bulky. Read More →

  • The Symbolism of flowers

    The Symbolism of flowers

    For millennia, and among almost every culture, flowers and trees have been adopted as symbols, type and emblems of human groups and affiliations.  The “War of the Roses” the red and white roses which were the badges of Lancastrian and York rivals to the English throne.Read More →

  • Basse-taille – Design Term

    Basse-taille – Design Term

    Basse-taille is a method for enamelling the graves or graves low-reliefs on a metal surface,Read More →

  • Functionalism a design and architectural principle

    Functionalism a design and architectural principle

    With his motto ‘form follows function,’ American architect Louis Sullivan is considered the founder of 20th-century Functionalism. Functionalism became a label for an extremely wide variety of avant-garde architecture and design in the first half of the 20th century, including Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s classical Rationalism, Erich Mendelsohn’s Expressionism, Giuseppe Terragni’s unadorned, heroic structures, Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture, and Le Corbusier’s Cubist solids. Read More →

  • Rya – Finnish Weaving Process

    Rya – Finnish Weaving Process

    Eva Brummer set up a studio in Helsinki in 1929 to revive the technique, which involves cutting the pile unevenly in order to create a thick relief effect. As rugs, the weavings became popular in the 1950s and were closely identified with the exuberant Scandinavian Modern style.Read More →

  • Ceramics a gift from the ancients

    Ceramics a gift from the ancients

    Ceramics are objects made of moistened clay, shaped and then baked. All Ceramics are Earthenware, terracotta, brick, tile, faience, majolica, stoneware, and porcelain. Ceramicware is decorated with clay inlays, relief patterns on the surface, or incised, stamped or embossed designs. Read More →

  • Fibreglass exciting early design medium

    Fibreglass exciting early design medium

    Known as glass-enhanced plastic (GRP) in Britain, fibre-enhanced plastic (FRP) in the USA or by the trade name fibreglass (after the manufacturer fibreglass Ltd.), GRP has been used for a wide range of applications from car body panels and boat hulls to furniture and tennis rackets. Read More →

  • What is the Pantone Colour Matching System?

    What is the Pantone Colour Matching System?

    The Pantone Colour Matching System is a system for identifying, matching and communicating colours across product design, graphic design and marketing. It utilises a unique numbering system for identifying its colours.Read More →

  • Gestalt – design from chaos to order

    Gestalt – design from chaos to order

    As a visual designer, I am fascinated how people process visual perceptual information. The designRead More →

  • Standardization of Design – Design Ideas

    Standardization of Design – Design Ideas

    Standardization is a critical feature of designs designed for industrial mass production. It allows componentsRead More →

  • Netsuke – Small Mythological carvings from Japan

    Netsuke – Small Mythological carvings from Japan

    Netsuke: A little Japanese sculptured item of ivory, wood, or porcelain that ranges in height and width from one-half to three inches. Mythological images, flowers, animals, gods, and goddesses are among the carvings. Netsuke pieces were initially employed as toggles in the fourteenth century. A cord was slipped under and over the obi and through a hole in the Netsuke.Read More →

You may also be interested in

Synthetic cubism – art & design term – Encyclopedia of Design

Synthetic cubism is the later phase of cubism, generally considered to have run from about 1912 to 1914, characterised by simpler shapes and brighter colours. To classify revolutionary experiments made by Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, and Juan Gris, historians tend to divide cubism into two stages, analytical and synthetic.

Rococo – art | design term – Encyclopedia of Design

Rococo is a term used in the visual arts to characterise the light, elegant, and sensuous style that emerged in France in the early 18th century reached its apogee in the 1730s and was gradually replaced in the 1760s by the strict, moralising characteristics of Neoclassicism.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.