Comparative Corinthian Orders

Vitruvius states that the Corinthian and Ionic orders are in all respects alike except for their capitals. Because of the increased depth of the Corinthian capital, he allows a height of 9/2 diameters for the column; I have repeated the entablature that he prescribes for the Ionic, with its comparatively simple cornice adorned with a dentil course. Serlio, because he only allows 9 diameters for the column, produces a Corinthian somewhat lacking in the elegance we expect in this order. Moreover, he adopts the capital depth advocated by Vitruvius of i diameter only, so that both shaft and capital appear a little stunted. He illustrates the Ionic base for this order, and both denticular and modillioned forms of the entablature, the latter not dissimilar to his modillioned Ionic.

The stateliest Corinthian is that of Vignola, with a column height of io diameters and an entablature of 2.5. Chambers clearly regards the Corinthian as the highest in rank of all the orders, placing it last in his hierarchical sequence (as does Scamozzi), so it is perhaps unkind not to afford space in this plate to the version of Chambers. However, he himself admits that his version is based closely on that of Vignola, both being derived primarily from the Temple of Mars Ultor (2 B.C.) and the interior order of the Pantheon. Vignola employs an Ionic base, which Chambers finds gives a wearisome repetition of convex forms, preferring a simple base very similar to that employed in his Doric order. Vignola regularises the capital height at 1V6 diameters, a proportion subsequently universally adopted which gives space for the proper development of the surrounding leaves (which Chambers says should be modelled on the olive) and of the calyces which spring from them. Vignola introduces both dentils and consoles into his cornice, a practice condemned by Serlio on the authority of Vitruvius, on the somewhat pedantic grounds of confusing two separate forms of roof-construction which these two elements symbolically represent.

In Palladio's version, the column is only allowed a height of 9/2 diameters. Both dentils and consoles are again prescribed for the entablature, though curiously, in both his general plates of the order, the dentils are omitted, leaving a plain band between the ovolo and cyma reversa of the lower part of the cornice - perhaps an error on the part of the engraver. Strange things can happen to an architect's drawings en route to publication, as is shown by some of Serlio's columns appearing upside down! For reasons not entirely clear, Chambers is very disparaging about Palladio's Corinthian, accusing him of departing radically from his own rendering of the Mars Ultor (Jupiter Stator) order in Book IV We may, on the other hand, find such criticism unduly severe, particularly when we inspect the coolly elegant Corinthian orders realised by Palladio, such as that at S. Georgio Maggiore

(1560) in Venice, where he displays to advantage his preference for leaving the leafwork of the capitals simply modelled and pleasantly understated.

Scamozzi follows much of the precedent of his tutor in this order, but prefers the more common column height of 10 diameters. He omits the dentils from the cornice, perhaps on Serlio's advice, but allows both ovolo and cyma reversa below the band of consoles, both enriched, while Perrault, over a column 9% diameters high, employs a cornice in which a plain band is substituted for the dentil course. Gibbs's Corinthian takes its cue from Vignola, but because of his insistence on an entablature : column ratio of 1:5, his cornice, with the elements of Vignola's all repeated, seems a little cramped and crowded.

Lower Diameter Column Doric High Serlio

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