This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
Fig. 57. Typical Greek Doric Bases.
This type, as well as the accompanying form of capital, Fig. 64, is somewhat exceptional in Greek work.
The Volutes. The strongest characteristic of the column is the volutes which ornament the capital.
Various theories have been suggested as to the derivation of the decoration of the "volute" face or roll, a distinguishing feature of the Ionic capital. It is indubitable that the series of lines enrolling themselves into a spiral form, which appear upon the principal faces of the capital and make up the end of the rolls, was for a long time a favorite motive with early peoples, and that many examples are found in the works of Mycenaean art; that the face of the volute very nearly reproduces the natural form of certain seashells; and that the same spiral motive was known and employed by almost all primitive civilizations.
The Assyrians, in their decorative embellishment of the short cross-bar or wooden cap that they placed upon their columns, succeeded in producing a rolled-up decorative member that may have very readily formed the suggestion for the Greek Ionic capital. (See Fig. 58).
The more ancient examples of the Ionic capital show the volute projected in such an extreme degree that it seems most unlikely that this decorative Order could have been developed from anything else than a wooden prototype, as such a form, executed in stone or marble, would seemingly be bound to split off under the load of the entablature. The sketch in Fig. 59 shows how this form of cap may possibly have been suggested by the Etruscan custom of placing a wooden cross-bar over the wood column, not only to tie it together and prevent it from splitting, but also to assist in reducing the width of the span between supports, as well as to increase the bearing area of the column-just as the horizontal mouldings of the base suggest a double structural purpose in binding together the bottom of the delicate support, and broadening its bearing area. The projecting parts of this short beam would naturally be treated in some decorative manner, and so the general form of the Ionic volute might have been easily produced. But we must again allow that in its introduction to Greece, the form of the Ionic capital was so materially modified that it has little close affinity with the earlier Mycenaean, Assyrian, or Phoenician motives. The approximate height of the capital is a little less than one diameter.
Fig. 58. Ionic Capital as Suggested in Assyrian Work.
The next principal feature of this Order, and the one that renders the column distinctive in itself, is that the capital has two separate faces-one in plane with the frieze above, showing the volute; while the other, at right angles to this, shows the end of the capital or roll of the volute, as may be seen in Figs. 60 and 61. As we have said, the capital of the Ionic column has two principal faces and two lateral or subordinate ones. The principal faces show the winding-up of the two volutes, or the eyes formed by the band laid over the moulded capital, which suggests in front elevation a cushion with two rolls or volutes, one at each side, while at the end a single roll alone is seen. This band or cushion comes between the turned or rounded column and the upper member of the capital which is always square in plan (Fig. 61), and it is of the shape of the echinus moulding in perpendicular section, the latter being sometimes plain but more generally carved or decorated. The side showing the volute, which we have already called the "face," is always in the same plane as the architrave and frieze of the building, and facing out toward the spectator; the opposite face is precisely like it.
Fig. 59. Ionic Capital as Suggested in Etruscan Work.
VIRGINIA LIBRARY, McCORMICK THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, CHICAGO, ILL.
Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, Architects, Chicago.
VIRGINIA LIBRARY, MeCORMICK THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, CHICAGO, ILL.
Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, Architects, Chicago.
View from Side. This Structure Illustrates the Use of the Greek Ionic Order on a Monumental Public Building For Front View, See Opposite Pace; for Plan. See Page 106.
Arrangement of Volutes at Corners of Buildings. This arrangement is perfectly adaptable to a long colonnade; but when we reach the corner of the building, a difficulty at once presents itself. On one side or the other this capital must show a roll, which would not agree with the capitals beside it. The volute which distinguishes the Ionic capital almost prevents its use at the angles of a building, inasmuch as the principal face is always shown in plane with the architrave above, and, in turning the corner at right angles, some change is necessary in order to bring the two principal faces at right angles to each other. The Greeks invented two methods of overcoming this difficulty. In Fig. 62 are shown two plans of Ionic capitals for use on the corners of buildings. The first-an exceptional one-is taken from the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Phigalia, where all four sides are alike, and the volutes coming together on the angle are, in plan, bowed out on each corner so as to be almost back to back at the extreme angle. This capital is shown in elevation in Fig. C4. The other and more usual method was to place the two principal faces of the ordinary capital at right angles to each other, the volutes on the outer corner following the same method in that one angle as on the four angles of the capital just described, and the two volutes at the other ends being kept in plane with the architrave above. This also brings the two rolls or lateral faces at right angles to each other, and requires a certain dislocation of their elements, which may be better seen in Fig. 63, where two capitals from the Temple on the Ilissus at Athens are shown side by side, one of these being that on the corner, and the other the ordinary capital of the colonnade. The Greeks themselves seemed to favor this latter solution, and in most instances employed this scheme on the capitals at the angles of their buildings. Perhaps this was partly because it allowed them the use of the decorated Ionic form, to which they were especially partial.