views updated Jun 11 2018

terracotta. Hard unglazed pottery (the term means ‘baked’ (cooked) ‘earth’) of which decorative tiles, architectural enrichment, statuary, urns, etc., or even components for whole façades are made. It should be distinguished from faïence. Widely used in Antiquity, notably by the Greeks and Etruscans, it was also employed in Islamic buildings, but its use in Europe was revived in the medieval period, especially where brick was used (e.g. in Northern Germany). A major revival occurred during C19, when terracotta was manufactured on a huge scale. The Church of St Stephen, Lever Bridge, Bolton, Lancs. (1836–45), designed by Edmund Sharpe (1809–77), was built entirely of terracotta, and a widespread use of the material was prompted by Prince Albert's admiration of German experiments and by the publication (1867) of The Terra Cotta Architecture of North Italy, edited and illustrated by the Prince's artistic adviser, Professor Ludwig Grüner (1801–82). Important instances in which terracotta was used include parts of the South Kensington Museum (1856–65), by Fowke, H. Y. D. Scott, and Godfrey Sykes (1824–66), the Huxley Building, Exhibition Road, Kensington (1867–71—by Scott and Wild), the Royal Albert Hall (1867–71—by Fowke and Scott), and the Rathaus, Berlin (1861–9), by Hermann Friedrich Waesemann (1813–79). Waterhouse was one of the many architects who employed terracotta for whole façades (e.g. the Gothic Prudential Assurance Building, Holborn (1878–1906), and the Free Rundbogenstil Congregationalist Churches at Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead (1883), and King's Weigh House, Duke Street, Mayfair (1889–91), all in London). Terracotta was widely used in the USA: its fireproof qualities and decorative possibilities commended it for cladding skyscrapers, and many such were finished with the glazed and coloured version of terracotta, known as faïence (e.g. Wrigley Building, Chicago, IL (1919–24) ).


C. Elliott (1992);
M. Stratton (1993);
Jane Turner (1996);
N. Winter (1993)

terra cotta

views updated Jun 27 2018

ter·ra cot·ta / ˈterə ˈkätə/ (also ter·ra·cot·ta) • n. unglazed, typically brownish-red earthenware, used chiefly as an ornamental building material and in modeling. ∎  a statuette or other object made of such earthenware. ∎  a strong brownish-red or brownish-orange color.


views updated May 11 2018

terracotta Hard, porous, usually unglazed, yellow, brown or red earthenware (fired clay). Terracotta is used in building, sculpture and pottery. See also ceramic