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Festoon of the Panthéon, Paris, by Jacques-Germain Soufflot and Jean-Baptiste Rondelet, 1758–1790[1]

A festoon (from French feston, Italian festone, from a Late Latin festo, originally a festal garland, Latin festum, feast) is a wreath or garland hanging from two points, and in architecture typically a carved ornament depicting conventional arrangement of flowers, foliage or fruit bound together and suspended by ribbons.[2] The motif is sometimes known as a swag when depicting fabric or linen.[3][4]

In modern English the verb forms, especially "festooned with", are often used very loosely or figuratively to mean having any type of fancy decoration or covering.

Origins and design[edit]

Its origin is probably due to the representation in stone of the garlands of natural flowers, etc., which were hung up over an entrance doorway on fête days, or suspended around an altar.[2][4]

The design was largely employed both by the Ancient Greeks and Romans and formed the principal decoration of altars, friezes and panels.[4] The ends of the ribbons are sometimes formed into bows or twisted curves; when in addition a group of foliage or flowers is suspended, it is called a drop or margent.[2]

The motif was later used in Neoclassical architecture and decorative arts, especially ceramics and the work of silversmiths. Variations on the exact design are plentiful; for example, the ribbons can be suspended either from a decorated knot, or held in the mouths of lions, or suspended across the tops of bucrania as in the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jones 2014, p. 276.
  2. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  3. ^ Fleming, John; Honour, Hugh; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1986) [1966]. Dictionary of Architecture (3 ed.). Penguin Books Ltd. p. 114. ISBN 0-14-051013-3.
  4. ^ a b c Sturgis, pp. 22-23
  5. ^ Virginia, L. Campbell (2017). Ancient Room - Pocket Museum. Thames & Hudson. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-500-51959-2.
  6. ^ Eastmond, Anthony (2013). The Glory of Byzantium and early Christendom. Phaidon. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-7148-4810-5.
  7. ^ "LAMBRIS DU CABINET DE L'HÔTEL COLBERT DE VILLACERF". carnavalet.paris.fr. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  8. ^ Martin, Henry (1927). Le Style Louis XIV (in French). Flammarion. p. 31.
  9. ^ "Table de Breteuil". collections.louvre.fr. 1774. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  10. ^ "Ground Floor". inveraray-castle.com. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  11. ^ "PAIRE DE VASES « FUSEAU »". amisdulouvre.fr. Retrieved 10 May 2023.
  12. ^ Jones 2014, p. 296.
  13. ^ "47 bis avenue Kléber". bercail.com. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  14. ^ Marinache, Oana (2015). Ernest Donaud - visul liniei (in Romanian). Editura Istoria Artei. p. 79. ISBN 978-606-94042-8-7.
  15. ^ Cuito, Aurora; Montes, Cristina (2009). Antoni Gaudí – Complete Works (in English and German). Evergreeb. p. 781. ISBN 978-3-8365-1165-0.
  16. ^ "Vila matematicianului Isac Moscuna şi casa Ecaterinei Procopie Dumitrescu, scoase la licitaţie". Economica.net. 15 June 2019. Retrieved 18 September 2023.



Further reading[edit]

  • Lewis, Philippa; G. Darley (1986). Dictionary of Ornament. New York: Pantheon. ISBN 0-394-50931-5.
  • Sturgis, Russell (1901). A Dictionary of Architecture and Building, Volume II. New York: Macmillan.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of festoon at Wiktionary