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Architecture at Edward Worth Library

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André Félibien, Des principes de l’architecture, de la sculpture, de la peinture, et des autres arts qui en dependent. Avec un dictionnaire des termes propres à chacun de ces arts (Paris, 1690), p. 25 (Corinthian order).

The base of the Corinthian order is usually of the Attic type on a plinth. The flutes of the column-shafts in some instances may have convex mouldings set within them to one-third the height of the shaft called cabled fluting or cabling. The distinguishing feature of the Corinthian order is the capital, which consists of two rows of acanthus-leaves with plant stalks or stems called caules rising behind the upper row that sprout lesser branches known as caulicoles or cauliculae supporting four pairs of helices (small types of volutes) or volutes at the corners and four subsidiary pairs in the centre of each face. The abacus has four concave sides with chamfered or pointed corners and has a floral ornament in the centre of each face, which can be a fleuron in the Roman Corinthian and sometimes an anthemion (honeysuckle-like flower) or palmette (symmetrical palm shoot) in the Greek Corinthian.

The entablature can be richly decorated with bead-and-reel mouldings between the fasciae of the architrave, and the frieze can either be plain or ornamented with continuous sculpture. The soffit of the cornice can have richly carved consoles (vertical scrolled brackets) or modillions (horizontal scrolled or block-like brackets) with coffers (square sunken panels) between them. Félibien’s depiction of the Corinthian order includes a drawing of the soffit of the cornice in plan form with modillion scrolled brackets decorated with acanthus leaves and coffers decorated with rosettes. The Roman Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek in present day Lebanon was built in the Corinthian order as were the portico of the Pantheon in Rome and the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.


Samuel Marolois, Mathematicvm opvs absolvtissimvm : continens geometriae, fortificationis, architecturæ, & perspectivæ theoreticæ ac practicæ regulas, demonstrationes, & figuras perfectissimas studio atque opera Alberti Girardi … ; recognitum ac multis notis illustratum (Amsterdam, 1633), 5 vols. in 4, vol. 4, plate Q (Corinthian detail).


The Composite order is Roman in origin and its capital combines the eight-voluted angular capital of the Ionic order above two tiers of acanthus-leaves found in the Corinthian order. The base and shaft of the column resembles the Corinthian order and the entablature can also be richly decorated. Félibien’s depicts the order with a pulvinated frieze and the soffit of the cornice is decorated with modillions and coffers (illustrated in the left- and right-hand side panels/columns of each webpage in this online exhibition). The pediment on the façade of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, designed by Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), is supported by Composite order columns.


Chitham, Robert, The classical orders of architecture, incorporating James Gibbs and the American classical tradition by Calder Loth, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 2005).

Curl, James Stevens & Wilson, Susan, The Oxford dictionary of architecture, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 2016).

Jones, M. Wilson, et al., ‘Orders, architectural’ entry in Oxford Art Online.

Text: Antoine Mac Gaoithín, Library Assistant at the Edward Worth Library.