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Summary Article: orders of architecture
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

In classical tyles of architecture the various columnar types fall, in general, into the five so-called classical orders, which are named Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite. Each order comprises the column with its base, shaft, and capital and the supported part or entablature, consisting of architrave, frieze, and cornice. Each order has its own distinctive character, both as to relative proportions and as to the detail of its different parts. The entablature height is generally about one quarter that of the column; a pedestal, when used, is about one third the height of the column. For the Doric order, the Ionic order, and the Corinthian order, originally developed by the Greeks, the Roman writer Vitruvius attempted to formulate the proportionings of their parts. In Greece the Doric was the earliest order to develop, and it was used for the Parthenon and for most temples. The Corinthian was little used until the Romans adapted it. They employed it more than they did any other order and introduced brackets, or modillions, in its cornice. The Roman orders made greater use of ornament than the Greek, and their column proportions were more slender. In the 15th cent. Alberti revived an interest in the work of Vitruvius. At the same time, architects made drawings of Roman ruins and applied the Roman orders rather arbitrarily to building design. In the 16th cent. a more systematic use of orders was practiced. Architectural writers, notably Serlio, Scamozzi, Vignola, Palladio, and Sanmichele crystallized the Roman versions and additions (Tuscan and Composite) into the five definitely formulated orders, with minute rules of proportion. Philibert Delorme, Claude Perrault, Abraham Bosse, and Sir William Chambers were among those who composed treatises on the subject. Using the classical orders as a basis, the designers of the Renaissance and of subsequent periods created many variations. However, during the classic revival, a strict adherence to the proportions of the original Greek and Roman models became the rule. Though 20th-century architects are aware of the orders, they no longer use them.

  • See Summerson, J. , Classical Language of Architecture (1966).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

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