About this Collection
The column is one component of an architectural system called the Classical Orders of Architecture.
The column rests on a base, has a shaft that may or may not be fluted (vertical grooves), and is topped by a capital. The horizontal portion of a building that the columns support, called the architrave, is also designed according to the rules of each order.
The ancient Greeks developed the first three orders or styles of columns, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. Each has its own distinctive style, structure, proportion, and ornamentation.
The Doric Order is the oldest and plainest. It is the only order that uses no base for the column. The shaft is usually fluted, and the capital is a simple cushion. The Doric architrave features alternating triglyphs (a set of three vertical brands) and metopes (a carved panel).
The Ionic Order is taller and more slender than the Doric. Its capitals are in the form of volutes (scroll shapes), and its architrave is usually a continuous frieze.
The Corinthian Order is the tallest and most elaborate of the three, featuring a bell-shaped capital from which leaves emerge.
The Romans favored the Corinthian order for its richness, but also developed two distinct orders of their own, the Tuscan and the Composite.
The Tuscan Order is the simplest of all, using no fluting, a flat cushion capital, and no ornamentation in the architrave. The Composite Order, on the other hand, is the most ornate and flexible of all. Its capital combines the leaves of the Corinthian with the volutes of the Ionic.
The Pantheon is an example of the Romans’ use of the Corinthian, while Doric is used on the Parthenon in Athens.