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.
Origin of the Ionic Order. Very possibly, at about the same time as the Doric column was slowly developing from the rock-cut pier, the use of tree trunks for support had suggested a circular tapering form of a column to those nations who erected their buildings of wood. It is very likely that the early columns were first used as a form of nature worship, in which case their derivation from the trees would very naturally cause them to be employed particularly in temples. We know that one form of Egyptian column was modeled closely upon the palm tree. We have already seen in Egypt the beginnings of the Doric column, and we shall soon find in the Corinthian another form that may have been either borrowed from or suggested by Egyptian precedent. So it is that, for the original of the Ionic Order, we must go back to the tree, just as we have to the rock-cut pier for the Doric. Everything points to this-the lightness and grace of the column itself; its entasis, which nearly approximates the natural diminution of the trunk of the growing tree; as well as the simple entablature of moulded members, all running horizontally and at right angles to the perpendicular lines of the column. This Order is as evidently developed from the,wooden buildings of the plains as the earlier Order was from the rock caves of the hills; and, in adapting it to use in stone, much of its character was preserved.
Essential Differences between Ionic and Doric Orders. The Ionic Order being a later growth than the Doric, is much more generally graceful in its proportions, and even the early examples do not show the clumsy processes of growth to the extent that we have found in the study of the preceding Order. Either these examples have been destroyed, or, what is quite as likely, the Greek artists adapted their experience in developing the Doric column, directly to this more delicate form. At any rate, we find that all the examples remaining in Greece may almost be considered as perfect types. The greatest number of examples of the Ionic Order are found in Asia Minor, and are generally of less value and of a later date.
The most marked change to be noticed is that evidenced in the entablature itself, where we find that all the ornaments in the frieze and soffit of the cornice, which characterize so distinctly the Greek Doric Order, have been done away with, and that both spaces are now left plain. The entire entablature now consists of simple, horizontal mouldings such as would be most appropriate to the nature of wood. This entablature is about the same proportion in relation to its column diameter as is the Doric, being two diameters in height. The column being higher than the Doric, its effect is, of course, much lighter and more graceful, The architrave is very high and often entirely plain, while the cornice is low in height. This throws the frieze above the position it ordinarily occupies in the entablature-a feature also found, in fact, in the Greek Doric Order, although with a different effect.
The characterization of the first two Greek Orders, as given by Vitruvius, is suggestive. In speaking of the origin of the Orders, he states that the Doric reproduces the proportions of the body of a man, while the Ionic attempts to equal the graceful proportions of a woman, and so he gives the height of eight diameters to these Ionic columns. Following the same author, the base, which first appears with the Ionic column, represents the draperyof the woman's long gown gathered around the feet; and-to further follow out such a fancy-the volutes of the capital may suggest some methods of doing up the hair, while the channels of the shaft may typify the long, hanging folds of the woman's garments.
The opinion of Vitruvius is reproduced here, more for its value in strongly demarking the difference in character that actually exists between these two Orders. The Doric Order is the national Order of the Doric race-strong, vigorous, and austere; in its simplicity of detail, in its lack of decoration and sculptured moulding, it expresses not so much beauty, as vigor, in all the full, robust perfection of Greek manhood. On the contrary, the Ionic Order displays more of refinement and elegance; the ornaments are alike more varied and of greater richness; it becomes the national order of the Ionians, and acquires in their hands, in Greece in the century of Pericles, and in Asia with Phidias, the highest degree of grace and perfection.
It is simpler, however, to remember that while the Doric column represents the treatment of a stone form or pier, the Ionic, a lighter development, was more directly inspired by the trees and early round wooden shafts, and was first reproduced in stone at a period when the workmen had acquired sufficient skill in working harder materials to preserve something of the grace and lightness of the original.
Description of the Ionic Order, and Various Examples. The Greek Ionic Order is supposed by some to have come from the East, in the vicinity of Assyria and Persia. Some authorities claim that it was used in its present form first in the island of Ionia, whence its name. The column has a base, and a cap with characteristic spiral-shaped ornaments. The column is eight or nine times its diameter, in height, with, as a rule, 24 flutings. The entablature consists of the architrave, which has three fascias and a crowning member; the frieze, plain or sometimes decorated with a continuous sculptured bas-relief; and the cornice, having an overhanging corona and bed-mouldings, with sometimes a dentil course or egg-and-tongue mouldings.
The Erechtheum at Athens is the best known example of this Order, others being the interior columns of the Propylaea, the Temple of Diana at Ephesus, and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
The Ionic Order was apparently used for the first time on the Artemisian Temple of Diana (or Artemis) at Ephesus, constructed about 580 B. C. In the fifth century this brilliant Order was used with much success in the Propylaea at Athens, where it is employed along with the Doric, in the small Temple of the Nike Apteros, or Wingless Victory; and in the Erechtheum.