Page 31. " I can match you at chess, backgammon, ecarte "
'A good hand'
Public Domain'A good hand' - Credit: George Goodwin Kilburne

Écarté is a two-player card game that originated in France.  The word literally means ‘discarded’. It is a trick-taking game, similar to whist, but with a special discarding phase.

The game was popular in the 19th century, but is now rarely played.

Page 34. " chiffoniers and little stands in buhl and marquetterie, loaded with figures in Dresden China "
Public DomainChiffonier - Credit: Jorge Barrios

A chiffonier is a piece of furniture, smaller than a sideboard, enclosed in the front.  The name is derived from the French word for rag-picker, suggesting that it was originally intended as a receptacle for odds and ends which had no particular place.  The earliest chiffoniers date from the Empire period in England (early 19th Century). They were usually made of rosewood, with brass handles and claw feet. 


An example of marqueterie
Creative Commons AttributionAn example of marqueterie - Credit: Stychokiller

Marqueterie is the art of applying pieces of veneer to a surface, such as an item of furniture, to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures. The word derives from a Middle French word meaning ‘inlaid work’.  Buhl refers to a type of marqueterie using inlays of brass or tortoiseshell, found mainly on French furniture of the 17th century.

Page 36. " They are sad Goths in art "
Visigoths sack Rome
Public DomainVisigoths sack Rome - Credit: Joseph-Noël Sylvestre, 1890

The Goths were an ancient East Germanic people.  In the third century, they ravaged the Balkan Peninsula and Anatolia as far as Cyprus, and sacked Athens, Byzantium and Sparta.  At the peak of their reign, they dominated an area extending all the way from the Danube to the Volga river, and from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea.

In subsequent centuries the Goths separated into two main branches: the Visigoths, who became federates of the Romans; and the Ostrogoths, who joined the Huns.

The Ostrogoths were eventually defeated by the Eastern Roman Empire.

The Visigoths sacked Rome in 410, and defeated Attila in 451.  The Franks proved their match, however, pushing them back to Hispania in 507.  They were conquered in the early eighth century by the Moors.

Gothic language and culture largely disappeared during the Middle Ages. 

Page 36. " I made some entries in my tablettes this morning "
Ancient greek man with wax tablet
Public DomainAncient greek man with wax tablet - Credit: Painting by ancient greek painter Douris (about 500 BC)

A wax tablet is a tablet made of wood and covered with a layer of wax, often linked loosely to a cover tablet. It was used as a reusable and portable writing surface in Antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages. 

Writing on the wax surface was performed with a stylus.  A straight-edged, spatula-like implement served as an eraser. The entire tablet could be cleared for reuse by warming it to about 50°C and smoothing the softened wax surface.

Wax tablets were used for a variety of purposes, from taking down notes to recording business accounts. They continued to be used for high-volume business records of transient importance until the 19th century.

Page 36. " that contains my Rembrandt etchings "
Rembrandt Laughing, self-portrait
Public DomainRembrandt Laughing, self-portrait - Credit: Rembrandt c 1628

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher.  He achieved youthful success as a portrait painter.  His etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime.  He enjoyed an excellent reputation as an artist, and also taught many important Dutch painters.

Scholars estimate that Rembrandt produced about 300 paintings.  His etchings, many of which were produced in whole or part by engraving or drypoint, number slightly under 300.

Page 41. " a pretty summer-house, built of wood, in the form of a miniature Swiss chalet "
Chalet in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeChalet in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland - Credit: Cristo Vlahos

The Swiss chalet architectural style originated in Germany in the early 19th century and was popular in parts of Europe and North America until the early 20th century.

The style is characterized by gabled roofs with wide eaves; exposed construction beams, including large brackets; decorative carving and mouldings; balconies; large windows and weatherboarding, usually painted, often in bright colours.

Page 46. " the magnificent condescension of the monarch who had picked up Titian's brush for him "
Portrait of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Public DomainPortrait of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor - Credit: Titian, 1548

Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488 - 1576) is known in English as Titian.  He was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th century Venetian school. 

His contemporaries referred to him as "The Sun Amidst Small Stars". His painting methods, particularly his application and use of colour, exercised substantial influence on painters of the Italian Renaissance, as well as on future generations of Western artists. 

The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, is said to have picked up a brush Titian had dropped, at which the artist said, "Sire, I am not worthy of such a servant." The Emperor replied, "Titian is worthy to be served by Caesar."

Charles V was one of many regal subjects painted by Titian. Others included King Philip II of Spain, Queen Mary of Hungary, and Pope Paul III.