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Letter "F" Glossary

faŤade - The principal exterior face of a building designed to emphasize a main entrance and sometimes decorated with significant sculptural programs including figures of saints, martyrs, and narrative scenes from the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary of the saints.

fan vault - Vaults constructed of concave-sided semi-cones, meeting or nearly meeting at the apex of the vault, the areas between cones being flat, and the whole being given a decorative treatment with ribs that fan out from the springing of the vault.

finial - Ornamental forms located at the top of a spire, pinnacle, or other vertical element.

fleur-de-lis - A decorative motif in the form of a stylized lily, usually with three curled petals, but occasionally with five. Used as a symbol of the French monarchy as well as the commune of Florence.

fluting - Closely spaced parallel grooves covering the surface of columns and pilasters used for both decorative and optical purposes.

flying buttress - Exterior stone supports in the form of arches located between an upright pier or buttress and the building wall designed to transmit the thrust of a vault or roof from the upper part of a wall outward to the pier or buttress. The exterior of Gothic cathedrals is characterized by flying buttresses usually located along the sides of the nave and around the choir or east end of the building.

foliate capital - A capital decorated with foliate (plant) forms usually in a stylized design.

foliate initial - An illuminated (painted) initial in a manuscript filled with decoration in leaf scroll.

fresco - Mural painting technique in which permanent pigments, dispersed in water, are painted on freshly laid lime plaster.

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