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A cartouche (also cartouch) is an oval or oblong design with a slightly convex surface, typically edged with ornamental scrollwork. It is used to hold a painted or low-relief design. Since the early 16th century, the cartouche is a scrolling frame device, derived originally from Italian cartuccia. Such cartouches are characteristically stretched, pierced and scrolling.
Another cartouche figures prominently in the 16th-century title page of Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, framing a minor vignette with a pierced and scrolling papery cartouche.
The engraved trade card of the London clockmaker Percy Webster shows a vignette of the shop in a scrolling cartouche frame of Rococo design that is composed entirely of scrolling devices.
Etching of a complex Baroque cartouche, by Bernard Turreau, 1716, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Baroque Frontispiece for Figures françoises et comiques by Robert Hecquet, 18th century, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Rococo cartouche from the Second Livre de Cartouches, circa 1710-1772, Rijksmuseum
Renaissance Revival cartouche on Rue des Archives in Paris
Romanian Revival cartouche above a window of house no. 60 on Bulevardul Dacia, Bucharest
19th century Eclectic Classicist rectangular cartouche of the Printemps Haussmann, Paris
19th century Eclectic Classicist cartouches in and under a pediment of Hala Traian, Bucharest. The rectangular one is a revival of Ancient Roman ones, that had the exact same shape
Three designs of Art Nouveau cartouches
- Tondo (art): round (circular)
- Medallion (architecture): round or oval
- Architectural sculpture
- Cartouche (cartography)
- Resist: a technique in ceramics to highlight cartouches, etc.
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