Related Objects
Current Location:
Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons -> 1st Floor (LIB)
Location Notes:
LIB; 1st Floor

Roman Corinthian Capital

circa 400
Artworks - Height: 16 in Width: 16 in Depth: 24 in
Roman Corinthian capital with two, alternating rows of acanthus leaves on the lower body, a tapered midsection, and lower portion of an egg-and-dart motif at the top. There is significant loss at the top of the capital where the top of the egg-and-dart, and other possible motifs are missing. On the top face of the capital are markings.
Historical Context:
This capital once crowned a Roman column. The style comes from the Corinthian order of architecture, whose name is derived from the Greek city of Corinth. Although of Greek origin, the Corinthian order gained greater popularity in Roman architecture. These capitals were highly decorated, often with images of leaves and an egg-and-dart molding along the upper edge. Even when removed from their original context, architectural fragments offer interesting information about the methods of their creation and later re-use. The top surface of this capital preserves the measuring lines and other marks made by the Roman masons who carved it. The capital also shows signs of damage from re-use in a later building. Ancient architectural motifs have inspired the designers of public and private buildings throughout Grand Rapids since the early 19th century.

Wikipedia Summary:

The Corinthian order is the last developed of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric order which was the earliest, followed by the Ionic order. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order. The Corinthian, with its offshoot the Composite, is the most ornate of the orders, characterized by slender fluted columns and elaborate capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and scrolls. There are many variations.

The name "Corinthian" is derived from the ancient Greek city of Corinth, although the style had its own model in Roman practice, following precedents set by the Temple of Mars Ultor in the Forum of Augustus (c. 2 AD). It was employed in southern Gaul at the Maison Carrée, Nîmes (illustration, below) and at the comparable podium temple at Vienne. Other prime examples noted by Mark Wilson Jones are the lower order of the Basilica Ulpia and the arch at Ancona (both of the reign of Trajan, 98–117 AD) the "column of Phocas" (re-erected in Late Antiquity but 2nd century in origin), and the "Temple of Bacchus" at Baalbek (c. 150 AD).