Our art glossary below is filled with handy definitions of key terms you might come across in a valuation report.

Information kindly provided in association with Doerr Dallas Valuations.

Plastic equivalent of oil paint.

A variant of etching, which strives for tone rather than outline.

Similar to collages, but usually everyday objects assembled to convey a three-dimensional idea.

18th Century. ‘Book Boards’, the insides of hard-backed books, without the leather covering. Early 19th Century. ‘Millboards’, specially manufactured with a smooth white surface.

How an artist controls the paint on the canvas or paper and manipulates it on the surface.

Made of willow or vine twigs heated at a high temperature, without oxygen, in an enclosed vessel to produce a solid stick.

A waxier form of pastel made by mixing powdered graphite or iron oxide with clay. Used for drawing in red or black.

Polished copper and sometimes silvered copper used in the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. Copies on copper by Flemish artists were very popular in Spain in the 17th Century.

A bracing system (cradling) to give an artists’ panel extra support.

When the topmost layer of paint on an oil painting dries creating a network of shallow cracks – the severity of these cracks or ‘craquelure’ can vary from faint to severe.

An intaglio printing technique like etching and engraving.

Using a steel plate, which being much harder than copper can produce several thousand prints without the image blurring.

Process of scratching an image into a copper plate. Wax and acid are used to cut out the lines. 

Ink is added and wiped away, remaining in the lines. Wet paper and the plate are put into a press forcing the wet paper into the lines, absorbing the ink and producing the image.

A water-based plaster, that fills in the wrinkles in the grain of the wood of an artist’s panel.

A digital printing process in which an ink-jet printer is used to produce a high-quality art print.

An opaque version of watercolour.

Images are used to convey particular meanings. E.g. the lamb which represents Christ, or the dove which represents the Holy Spirit in Christian religious paintings.

Italian meaning ‘mixture’. A painting technique where the artist applies paint thickly onto the surface of the canvas or panel so that brushstrokes or palette knife marks are highly visible.

A weaker woven fabric used in the 15th Century akin to canvas.

A new fabric support to the back of a canvas to help support the painting, strengthen, flatten or consolidate oil paintings when the original canvas has become unstable due to age or damage.

Same as a woodcut except using lino.

A similar process to etching but using stone (Lithos in Greek) instead of a copper plate. The result looks like an original drawing.

Similar process to etching, but the copper plate is covered in tiny holes made by a steel rocker, consisting of numerous little spikes.

As the name implies, is a one-off print, but where the matrix (plate or stone) is destroyed.

A compound of pigments, such as vegetable material and minerals, bound with linseed oil or occasionally nut oils.

This refers to the physical surface of a work of art and can refer to the physical condition or the work itself, or refer to the artistic characteristics of the painting i.e. the brushstrokes or impasto.

In Northern Europe the most common panels were made of Baltic Oak. In Italy the panels were made of softer woods such as Lime, Walnut and Poplar but more prone to woodworm.

Sticks of chalk bound with pigment. They come in varying degrees of hardness.

A dye made from cuttlefish ink, which it exudes as a defensive screen. Sepia is the Latin for Cuttlefish.

A printing technique where a mesh is used to transfer ink (or dye) onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil.

In art, this refers to the message the artist is trying to communicate. It can be a statement, an emotion, or an object. It can be representational or abstract.

A fast-drying painting medium, consisting of pigments bound with a water-soluble binder such as egg yolk.

The layer or covering put on an oil or acrylic painting to protect the paint surface. Varnish is colourless and odourless and can be removed easily by a conservator.

Pigments bound with water and traditionally applied on white paper, with the bare paper being used for highlights, such as clouds.

A wooden block is carved with a chisel and ink applied to the high point as opposed to the grooves.