Necklace with stylized anthemion motif
“If you are going to walk the walk, you should talk the talk.”
ANTHEMION and PALMETTE: These two terms are often used interchangeably. Both are motifs in decorative arts that consist of a group of fronds, sometimes with the center frond being a bit taller. Seen in classical styles, especially in the Neoclassical style of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
If you are being picky (and we are), there is a distinction between anthemion and palmette. The fronds of an anthemion, which means honeysuckle, tend to curl inward. The fronds of a palmette, which is inspired by a palm, are flat or curl outward. This distinction is readily apparent when one looks at the plants that inspired the motifs.
Honeysuckle flower. Note how the petals curve inward.
Note how leaves and overall shape of the palm tree curve outward.
Drawing of Anthemion
Anthemion on pediment
Anthemions alternating with palmettes on column base
Anthemion in metalwork
Anthemion on the cornice of a day bed canopy at Belvoir Castle Leicestershire, UK
Peter Paul Rubens
The Artist and His First Wife, Isabella Brant, in the Honeysuckle Bower (detail)
Note anthemion motif on sleeve
Drawing of Palmette
Look closely at the top of the columns to see the palmettes.
Lace with Palmette motif
Neoclassical period wallpaper border with palmette in my dining room.
Bracelet with Palmette motif.
Palmette on the crest of the chair on the right.
Chandelier shaped as a large palmette.
IN THE CASE OF RUGS
Palmette is the term most often used when describing a frond motif in rugs, but both shapes are seen.
Typical palmette motif in a rug.
Rug with anthemion motif at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum.