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Pronounced: fo (like go)

What is faux?

Faux is a French word used to describe something made to resemble something else. The original French word means false, imitation or artificial. Faux marbe looks like marble. Faux bois looks like wood. Faux porphyry looks like stone.

Who used it and why?

Faux marbe was used by ancient Greek potters. Greeks on the island of Delos were using faux marbe as wall decoration in the second century BC. The Pitti Palace in Florence has faux porphyry; Palazzo del Te in Mantua is faux and trompe l'oeil (sounds like: Myrna Loy) run amok.

Why not just use the real thing?

In many instances, the real thing (marble, lapis lazuli etc.) would be entirely too costly. People are after the look without the expense.

Sometimes, faux is used for fun. Who would expect an entire bathroom to be in malachite? The related term: trompe l'oeil means "trick the eye" and conveys the desired sense of frivolity.

Of course, there are times when someone wants to appear to have the real thing and hopes and prays no one notices. George Washington used pine painted to look like mahogany at Mount Vernon. (Surely he did so out of frugality, not insecurity.)

Laura Shechter painting

Contemporary realist Laura Shechter employs virtuoso illusionistic painting techniques in her work
as a compositional structure--not mere trompe l'oeil decoration.


P&P: Abstract Expressionism
P&P: architectonic
P&P: Arte Povera
P&P: Ash Can School
P&P: bronze patina
P&P: citrine
P&P: Colorfield painting
P&P: Greek columns
P&P: Conceptual Art
P&P: coromandel
P&P: depression glass
P&P: enamel
P&P: encaustic
P&P: etching
P&P: faux
P&P: foreshortening
P&P: gouache
P&P: Iconography & Iconology
P&P: New Image painting
P&P: Newcomb pottery
P&P: parfleche
P&P: Pop Art
P&P: porcelain
P&P: realism
P&P: Senufo
P&P: Surrealism
P&P: turquoise


In the art & antiques world, experts bandy about arcane words as though they were part of everyone's standard vocabulary. To a fledgling collector, this practice can be maddening. In PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE, BIDDINGTON'S picks a word or phrase and gives it a good, hard going over: defining it, explaining it and showing how to use it.

Glance regularly at PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE, and soon you'll be able to toss those obscure phrases back at the experts with confidence and agility and be fully prepared to bid on items at BIDDINGTON'S upmarket, online art & antiques auctions.

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