Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
......................... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

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1. A pattern of interlacing lines - esp. one in a stained glass window - often made of wood, stone or cast iron.

2. Any fine lacy pattern resembling this

Found in fanlights.

Mouchette:  A daggerlike motif found especially in 14th cent. Gothic tracery, formed by elliptical and ogee curves so that it is pointed at one end and circular at the other.

In Gothic and Gothic Revival Architecture

Tracery is the stone framework in the head of Gothic windows, formed by a continuation of the mullions, bent, as it were, into ornamental designs..

Tracery is geometrically constructed building ornament such as a foil found in the upper part of Gothic rose windows.

Tracery was especially typical in Gothic Revival.

Patterns formed in tracery: Trefoil ... Quatrefoil ... Cinquefoil ... Sexfoil ... Multifoil

Types of Tracery

Bar tracery: A pattern formed by interlocking bars of stone within the arch of a Gothic window. Example: Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France

Blind tracery: Tracery adorning a wall or panel but not pierced through

Branch tracery : A form, of Gothic tracery in Germany in the late 15th and early 16th cent; made to imitate rustic work with boughs and knots.

Fan tracery / fanwork: Tracery on the soffit of a vault whose ribs radiate like the ribs of fan.

Net (reticulated) tracery: Gothic tracery consisting mainly of a netlike arrangement of repeated geometrical figures.

- Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture, Ed. by Cyril M. Harris. Dover Pub. 1977

Plate tracery / Bar tracery

The earliest form of window tracery, typical of Gothic architecture prior to the early 13th century, is known as plate tracery because the individual lights (the glazed openings in the window) have the appearance of being cut out of a flat plate of masonry.

A common image used by art historians to help visualise the distinctive characteristics of plate tracery is to imagine rolling out a flat sheet of cookie-dough, then punching holes in it with a limited set of shaped cookie cutters. (In practice of course, windows were not cut out of continuous sheets of stone - plate tracery was constructed from carefully shaped and jointed pieces of masonry which were coursed in to the surrounding walls - but the analogy is still a helpful one).
Plate tracery example Chartres Cathedral

Bar Tracery

To continue the cookie-dough metaphor, bar-tracery is what would result from rolling thin flexible coils of dough with one's hands and then bending and joining them into complex, interlacing patterns.

... the glass panels were held between narrow stone mullions made up of carefully shaped lengths of masonry (fitted together with mortar and metal pins) quite distinct from the wall surrounding them. These mullions were much more slender than the corresponding elements in plate tracery windows.

Unlike with plate tracery, where each stone had to be individually shaped, the elements of bar tracery could be mass-produced to standard templates in the mason's yard - work that could continue even when it was too cold for lime mortar to set.

- Text:  Wikipedia (April 2012)


Also found in furniture, including lamps, chandeliers.

Examples from Buffalo:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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