Worcester College

The Collection
Simple Searches
Advanced Searching



Keyword searching

The subject content of the prints has been described using terminology that is relatively consistent. Searchers should attempt to take account of possible synonyms and should bear possible spelling errors in mind. Also different forms of the same word: a 'horse race' might elsewhere be mentioned as 'racing', 'hunt' is safer than 'hunting'.

Some prints have been described in more detail than others. Some examples of carriages [see also coaches] or stag hunting will be found by searching for these terms but probably not all examples. There are no foreign accents in the subject index because they will not be registered in searches: look for chateau rather than château.

Below is some information on the sorts of keywords we have used to catalogue a range of subjects. The areas covered include allegory, architecture and ornament, gardens, history, incidents, customs and details, literary subjects, military subjects, portraits, religion, topography and other themes.


As with all keyword searches the search term is matched to the beginning of each word in the database so it is safer to look for 'allegor' than 'allegory' in order to take in 'allegorical'. Other related terms that have been used are: 'emblem'; 'monster', 'months', 'motto', 'muse', 'myth', 'nymph', 'planets', 'satyr', 'seasons', 'seven deadly sins', 'thesis print', 'Jupiter', 'Hercules', 'Ulysses' etc.

Architecture and ornament

Prints have been designated 'detail', 'diagram', 'elevation', 'plan', 'section' or 'view'. There is no overall grouping term such as 'architectural' because we considered that there were too many architectural prints for such a search to be useful. On the other hand, 'ornament' is a term that has been linked to many or all prints recording designs. To get all architectural prints a search should request all the above terms, but a search combining 'view' or 'plan' or 'elevation' will produce a list of over 3000 titles.

The type of building is usually specified using terms including: 'amphitheatre', 'bath', 'castle', 'chateau', 'cathedral'; 'chapel', 'church'; 'column', 'hospital', 'hotel' [in the French sense], 'library', 'loggia', 'mausoleum', 'palace', 'palazzo', 'prison', 'private house', 'shop', 'stable', 'theatre', 'triumphal arch', 'villa', 'warehouse'. There is some inconsistency with synonyms in different languages. A search might best ask for 'castle' and 'chateau', or for 'palace', 'palazzo' and perhaps 'hotel'.

Interior views usually designated 'interior'. Ornament prints and interior details have been described using terms such as: 'acanthus scroll', 'alcove', 'altar', 'architrave', 'balcony', 'bath', 'bed', 'bedroom', 'bracket', 'bureau', 'cabinet', 'candelabra', 'candlestand/stick', 'capital', 'carpentry', 'cartouche', 'carving', 'caryatid', 'ceiling', 'cellar', 'chimney piece' or 'chimney place', 'column', 'console', 'corbel', 'cornice', 'courtyard', 'coving', 'cupboard', 'cupola', 'door', 'entablature', 'escritoire', 'facade', 'fireplace', 'frieze', 'furniture', 'ironwork', 'lamp', 'mirror', 'moulding', 'niche', 'office', 'ornament', 'panel', 'pilaster', 'plaque', 'porte cochere', 'portico', 'pulpit', 'relief', 'salle', 'salon', 'saloon', 'table', 'tomb', 'torchere', 'trophies', 'vase', 'window'. Stylistic descriptive terms include: 'arabesque', 'classical', 'grotesque', 'rococo', 'Roman', 'rusticated'.


The term 'garden' gets 895 titles. Garden features have been mentioned in most if not all instances. Terms include: 'alley', 'amphitheatre', 'arcade', 'arena', 'avenue', 'aviary', 'basin', 'bastions', 'bosquet', 'botanic', 'bowling green', 'bridge', 'broderie', 'canal', 'cascade', 'citrus trees', 'colonnade' 'exhedra', 'flower', 'fountain', 'gate', 'giuoche d'acque', 'greenhouse', 'grotto', 'hedge', 'herm', 'kitchen garden', 'island', 'labyrinth', 'lake', 'machine', 'menagerie', 'mound', 'obelisk', 'orangery', 'park', 'parterre', 'pavilion', 'pleasure boats', 'pheasant house', 'pond', 'potager', 'riding school', 'river', 'rocaille', 'rockwork', 'shellwork', 'topiary', 'treillage', 'trellis-work', 'tubs', 'urns', 'vase', 'vista', 'water theatre', 'wetting jet/squirt', 'wilderness'.

Once again, foreign words have sometimes been used. Search for 'rocaille' as well as 'rockwork', 'treillage' as well as 'trellis'.


The term 'history' has been used loosely and inclusively for subjects of 'history painting'. Sometimes history is qualified with terms such as 'scripture history', 'ancient', 'classical', 'contemporary', 'modern'.

Incidents, customs and details

Incidents depicted as details in prints and interesting customs have usually been noted. Examples include: 'abjuration', 'brawl', 'canonisation', 'carnival', 'comedia', 'coronation', 'duelling', 'fencing', 'festival', 'funeral', 'game' (eg 'bowls', 'pell mell'), 'hat ceremony', 'haymaking', 'hawking', 'horses exercising', 'hunt', 'marriage', 'mowing', 'opera', 'pantomime', 'plague', 'ploughing', 'procession'; 'racing'; 'royal entry'; 'shooting', 'swim', 'theatre', 'tilting', 'wedding'.

Other eye-catching figures or features have sometimes been recorded. Examples include: 'altar', 'aqueduct', 'architect', 'artist', 'barge', 'barrels', 'beggar', 'boat', 'bridge', 'canal', 'carriage', 'chariot', 'child', 'coach'; 'cripple', 'dancing dog', 'ferry', 'firework', 'footman', 'galley', 'gondola', 'guards', 'hawker', 'knife grinder', 'ladies', 'lamp', 'masks', 'monk', 'mountebank', 'mule', 'musician', 'nun', 'organ'; 'parasol', 'peasant', 'picnic', 'playing card', 'pleasure barge', 'rabbit', 'raft', 'river traffic', 'ruin', 'sedan chair'; 'servant', 'shop', 'sleigh', 'stall', 'street life', 'street theatre', 'sunshade', 'telescope', 'tomb', 'tourist', 'veteran', 'washerwomen', 'windmill'.

Literary subjects

Prints taking their subject from a literary source have been designated 'literature'. The name of an author and title of a book is usually also given: 'Virgil, Aeneid'.

Military subjects

Descriptive terms include: 'attack', 'battle', 'castle', 'captive', 'civil war', 'Dacian', 'defeat', 'Dutch', 'flag', 'fortress', 'French', 'naval', 'parliamentarian', 'Parthian', 'plan', 'prisoner', 'relief', 'Roman', 'royalist', 'Sarmatian', 'ship', 'siege', 'standard', 'surrender', 'Turkish', 'Venetian', 'victory'.


The description of all portraits should include the word 'portrait'. We have endeavoured with incomplete success to record the names of kings in the form 'King Charles I' to make it possible to search for kings as a group and to add the term 'woman' to the description of female subjects. Other ranks include Comte, Countess, Duc, Duke, Marquis, Marquise, Earl.

Descriptive terms include 'actor', 'actress', 'admiral', 'antiquary', 'archbishop', 'architect', 'artist', 'author', 'bishop', 'bookseller', 'cardinal', 'caricature', 'churchman', 'collector', 'criminal', 'curator', 'diplomat', 'doctor', 'dramatist', 'engraver', 'gardener', 'general', 'geographer', 'historian', 'inventor', 'Jacobite', 'lawyer', 'martyr', 'mathematician', 'medical', 'monk', 'musician', 'painter', 'parliamentarian', 'philosopher', 'poet', 'politician', 'preacher', 'priest', 'prince', 'printer', 'professor', 'publisher', 'puritan', 'queen', 'reformer', 'royalist', 'satirical', 'scientist', 'sculptor', 'singer', soldier', 'Turk', 'woman', 'women', 'writer'.

Some specific jobs are mentioned: 'Lord Chancellor', 'Dean of Christ Church', privy councillor, 'professor of theology'.

Some descriptive words relating to dress may be included: for example, 'armour', 'robes of state', 'garter', 'Golden Fleece'.

Sometimes details of presentation will be described, particularly where they are striking: 'coat of arms', 'decorative border'.


'Scripture history' and 'Bible' are probably' the best general terms. 'Bible' is followed where possible by a reference to book, chapter and verse. 'Devotion' has been used to encompass Madonnas, Holy Families and images of Saints. Other terms that have been used widely include: 'abjuration', 'apotheosis', 'archbishop', 'bishop', 'canonisation', 'Christ'; 'churchman', 'Holy Family', 'inquisition', 'madonna', 'martyr', 'NT', 'OT', 'preacher', 'protestant', 'puritan', 'saint', 'S.', 'St' (and Italian variations). Subjects are described with phrases such as 'Peter walking on the water'.

Other themes

Descriptive terms include: 'drinking', 'engineering', 'erotic', 'Excise Bill', 'financial scandal', 'luxury', 'political', 'prostitution'; 'moral'; 'satire' or 'satirical', 'science', 'South Sea Bubble', 'taste', 'theatre'.


Prints are usually described as 'view', 'map' or 'plan'.

Descriptions of particular buildings or locations should include the name of the city and the name of the building. Beware of French or Italian variations in presentation of names.

Types of site are usually mentioned: 'amphitheatre', 'aqueduct','arsenal', 'bath', 'bridge', 'canal', 'castle', 'catacomb', 'cathedral'; 'chateau', 'church', 'circus', 'column', 'customs house', 'fountain', 'hospital', 'law court', 'library', 'mausoleum', 'monastery', 'obelisk', 'palace', 'palazzo', 'piazza', 'prison', 'public buildings', 'pyramid', 'quay', 'river', 'ruin', 'shop', 'temple', 'theatre', 'tomb', 'triumphal arch', 'villa', 'warehouse'

Interior views are usually designated 'interior'.

Tourists have sometimes been noted.

Works of art

Types include: 'bust', 'cameo', 'capriccio', 'cartoon', 'coin', 'design', 'fresco', 'manuscript', 'medal', 'mosaic', 'mural', 'ornament', 'relief', 'sarcophagus', 'sculptural frieze', 'sculpture', 'statue', 'still life', 'stucco', 'tapestry', 'tapestries', 'trophy', 'urn', 'vase'

Descriptive terms include: 'ancient', 'antique', 'botanical', 'bronze', 'classical', 'gilt', 'Greek' 'grotesque', 'landscape', 'marble', 'modern', 'porphyry', 'Roman', 'rusticated'; collection; 'Cabinet du Roi' 'Title plate'; 'dedication plate'; 'calendar', 'key', 'map', 'game', 'playing card'


© 1999 Worcester College
Designed and Developed by:
EmailHCDT at Oxford University, 2000