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Rinceau (plural rinceaux), from the French, meaning foliage. In architecture and the decorative arts, a decorative form consisting of a continuous wavy stemlike motif from which smaller leafy stems or groups of leaves branch out at more or less regular intervals.

The use of rinceaux is frequent in the friezes of Roman buildings, where is generally found in a frieze, the middle element of an entablature, just below the cornice. It is also decorated in the jamb ornaments and capitals of Romanesque structures and in friezes and panels of buildings in the various Renaissance styles, where tiny animals or human heads also appear.[1]

The rinceau experienced a return to the simpler Classic style in the 17th century, and in the subsequent century it was applied more freely, without a strict repetition of identical forms.[2]


  1. ^ Cf. J. Ward, Historic Ornament: Treatise on Decorative Art and Architectural Ornament, BiblioBazaar (2009), s.v. Rinceau.
  2. ^ Cf. A. Speltz, The History of Ornament: Design in the Decorative Arts, Portland (1989), s.v.

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