- Glossary definition: Cartouche

An ornamental figure which serves as a frame for an inscription or a decoration within a space which usually has a scroll-like, or an oval or lozenge shape, this figure having a form which is irregular or fantastic. A cartouche may be painted, sculpted, engraved, etc. Often specifies oblong figures enclosing Egyptian hieroglyphic names of gods and royalty. Also much used in the sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe to decorate walls and the title pages of books. Another sort of cartouche, a plaque attached to a work of art, its frame or base, and inscribed with the title, artist's name, etc., is often referred to by its Italian name, cartoccio.