Corbel

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Elaborately decorated classical-style stone console corbels supporting balconies on a building in Indianapolis Architecture-corbels.jpg
Elaborately decorated classical-style stone console corbels supporting balconies on a building in Indianapolis
Spanish Late Gothic corbel Sasamon Burgos Arquivolta 4.jpg
Spanish Late Gothic corbel

In architecture a corbel is in medieval architecture a structural piece of stone, wood or metal jutting from a wall to carry a superincumbent weight, [1] a type of bracket. [2] A corbel is a solid piece of material in the wall, whereas a console is a piece applied to the structure. A piece of timber projecting in the same way was called a "tassel" or a "bragger" in England. [1] The technique of corbelling, where rows of corbels deeply keyed inside a wall support a projecting wall or parapet, has been used since Neolithic (New Stone Age) times. [3] It is common in medieval architecture and in the Scottish baronial style as well as in the vocabulary of classical architecture, such as the modillions of a Corinthian cornice, Hindu temple architecture and in ancient Chinese architecture.

Architecture The product and the process of planning, designing and constructing buildings and other structures.

Architecture is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or any other structures. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art. Historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements.

Bracket (architecture) architectural element

A bracket is an architectural element: a structural or decorative member. It can be made of wood, stone, plaster, metal, or Mardi Norton. It projects from a wall, usually to carry weight and sometimes to "...strengthen an angle". A corbel and console are types of brackets.

The Neolithic, the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first development of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world. The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago, marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development, although this term may not be used, until European contact.

Contents

A console is more specifically an "S"-shaped scroll bracket in the classical tradition, with the upper or inner part larger than the lower (as in the first illustration) or outer. Keystones are also often in the form of consoles. [4] Whereas "corbel" is rarely used outside architecture, "console" is widely used for furniture, as in console table, and other decorative arts where the motif appears.

Keystone (architecture)

A keystone is the wedge-shaped stone piece at the apex of a masonry arch, or the generally round one at the apex of a vault. In both cases it is the final piece placed during construction and locks all the stones into position, allowing the arch or vault to bear weight. In both arches and vaults, keystones are often enlarged beyond the structural requirements, and often decorated in some way. Keystones are often placed in the centre of the flat top of openings such as doors and windows, essentially for decorative effect.

Furniture movable objects intended to support various human activities

Furniture refers to movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating, eating (tables), and sleeping. Furniture is also used to hold objects at a convenient height for work, or to store things. Furniture can be a product of design and is considered a form of decorative art. In addition to furniture's functional role, it can serve a symbolic or religious purpose. It can be made from many materials, including metal, plastic, and wood. Furniture can be made using a variety of woodworking joints which often reflect the local culture.

Console table

A console table is a table whose top surface is supported by corbels or brackets rather than by the usual four legs. It is thus similar to a supported shelf and is not designed to serve as a stand-alone surface. It is frequently used as pier table, to abut a pier wall.

The word "corbel" comes from Old French and derives from the Latin corbellus, a diminutive of corvus ("raven"), which refers to the beak-like appearance. [1] [5] Similarly, the French refer to a bracket-corbel, usually a load-bearing internal feature, as a corbeau ("crow").

Old French was the language spoken in Northern France from the 8th century to the 14th century. In the 14th century, these dialects came to be collectively known as the langue d'oïl, contrasting with the langue d'oc or Occitan language in the south of France. The mid-14th century is taken as the transitional period to Middle French, the language of the French Renaissance, specifically based on the dialect of the Île-de-France region.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

A diminutive is a word that has been modified to convey a slighter degree of its root meaning, to convey the smallness of the object or quality named, or to convey a sense of intimacy or endearment. A diminutive form is a word-formation device used to express such meanings; in many languages, such forms can be translated as "little" and diminutives can also be formed as multi-word constructions such as "Tiny Tim". Diminutives are often employed as nicknames and pet names, when speaking to small children, and when expressing extreme tenderness and intimacy to an adult. The opposite of the diminutive form is the augmentative. Beyond the diminutive form of a single word, a diminutive can be a multi-word name, such as "Tiny Tim" or "Little Dorrit".

Decorated corbels

Norman (Romanesque) corbels often have a plain appearance, [1] although they may be elaborately carved with stylised heads of humans, animals or imaginary "beasts", and sometimes with other motifs (Kilpeck church in Herefordshire is a notable example, with 85 of its original 91 richly carved corbels still surviving). [6]

Norman architecture sub-type of Romanesque architecture

The term Norman architecture is used to categorise styles of Romanesque architecture developed by the Normans in the various lands under their dominion or influence in the 11th and 12th centuries. In particular the term is traditionally used for English Romanesque architecture. The Normans introduced large numbers of castles and fortifications including Norman keeps, and at the same time monasteries, abbeys, churches and cathedrals, in a style characterised by the usual Romanesque rounded arches and especially massive proportions compared to other regional variations of the style.

Romanesque architecture architectural style of Medieval Europe

Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of medieval Europe characterized by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque style, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 11th century, this later date being the most commonly held. In the 12th century it developed into the Gothic style, marked by pointed arches. Examples of Romanesque architecture can be found across the continent, making it the first pan-European architectural style since Imperial Roman architecture. The Romanesque style in England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.

Kilpeck village in Herefordshire, United Kingdom

Kilpeck is a small village in Herefordshire, England. It is about nine miles (14 km) southwest of Hereford, just south of the A465 road and Welsh Marches Line to Abergavenny, and about five miles (8 km) from the border with Wales.

Similarly, in the Early English period corbels were sometimes elaborately carved, as at Lincoln Cathedral, and sometimes more simply so. [1]

Lincoln Cathedral Church in Lincolnshire, England

Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Minster, or the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln and sometimes St Mary's Cathedral, in Lincoln, England, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Lincoln. Construction commenced in 1072 and continued in several phases throughout the medieval period. Like many of the medieval cathedrals of England it was built in the Gothic style.

Corbels sometimes end with a point apparently growing into the wall, or forming a knot, and often are supported by angels and other figures. In the later periods the carved foliage and other ornaments used on corbels resemble those used in the capitals of columns. [1]

Capital (architecture) part of a column (architecture)

In architecture the capital or chapiter forms the topmost member of a column. It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column's supporting surface. The capital, projecting on each side as it rises to support the abacus, joins the usually square abacus and the usually circular shaft of the column. The capital may be convex, as in the Doric order; concave, as in the inverted bell of the Corinthian order; or scrolling out, as in the Ionic order. These form the three principal types on which all capitals in the classical tradition are based. The Composite order, established in the 16th century on a hint from the Arch of Titus, adds Ionic volutes to Corinthian acanthus leaves.

Column structural element sustaining the weight of a building

A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. In other words, a column is a compression member. The term column applies especially to a large round support with a capital and a base or pedestal which is made of stone, or appearing to be so. A small wooden or metal support is typically called a post, and supports with a rectangular or other non-round section are usually called piers. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces. Other compression members are often termed "columns" because of the similar stress conditions. Columns are frequently used to support beams or arches on which the upper parts of walls or ceilings rest. In architecture, "column" refers to such a structural element that also has certain proportional and decorative features. A column might also be a decorative element not needed for structural purposes; many columns are "engaged", that is to say form part of a wall.

Throughout England, in half-timber work, wooden corbels ("tassels" or "braggers") abound, carrying window-sills or oriel windows in wood, which also are often carved. [1]

Classical architecture

The corbels carrying balconies in Italy and France were sometimes of great size and richly carved, and some of the finest examples of the Italian "Cinquecento" (16th century) style are found in them. Taking a cue from 16th-century practice, the Paris-trained designers of 19th-century Beaux-Arts architecture were encouraged to show imagination in varying corbels.[ citation needed ]

Corbel tables

Romanesque corbel table featuring erotic scenes at Colegiata de Cervatos, near Santander, Spain Colegiata de Cervatos - Canecillos sobre la portada.jpg
Romanesque corbel table featuring erotic scenes at Colegiata de Cervatos, near Santander, Spain

A corbel table is a projecting moulded string course supported by a range of corbels. Sometimes these corbels carry a small arcade under the string course, the arches of which are pointed and trefoiled. As a rule the corbel table carries the gutter, but in Lombard work the arcaded corbel table was utilized as a decoration to subdivide the storeys and break up the wall surface. In Italy sometimes over the corbels will form a moulding, and above a plain piece of projecting wall forming a parapet. [1]

The corbels carrying the arches of the corbel tables in Italy and France were often elaborately moulded, and sometimes in two or three courses projecting over one another; those carrying the machicolations of English and French castles had four courses.[ citation needed ]

In modern chimney construction, a corbel table is constructed on the inside of a flue in the form of a concrete ring beam supported by a range of corbels. The corbels can be either in-situ or pre-cast concrete. The corbel tables described here are built at approximately ten-metre intervals to ensure stability of the barrel of refractory bricks constructed thereon.[ citation needed ]

Corbelling

Corbelled arch at the Royal Palace of Ugarit, 2nd millennium BC Ugarit Corbel.jpg
Corbelled arch at the Royal Palace of Ugarit, 2nd millennium BC
Corbelling to resemble machicolations on an 18th-century folly, Broadway Tower, England Broadway tower POTY 2016 banner.jpg
Corbelling to resemble machicolations on an 18th-century folly, Broadway Tower, England

Corbelling, where rows of corbels gradually build a wall out from the vertical, has long been used as a simple kind of vaulting, for example in many Neolithic chambered cairns, where walls are gradually corbelled in until the opening can be spanned by a slab.

In medieval architecture the technique was used to support upper storeys or a parapet projecting forward from the wall plane, often to form machicolation (openings between corbels could be used to drop things onto attackers). This later became a decorative feature, without the openings. Corbelling supporting upper stories and particularly supporting projecting corner turrets subsequently became a characteristic of the Scottish baronial style.

Medieval timber-framed buildings often employ jettying, where upper stories are cantilevered out on projecting wooden beams in a similar manner to corbelling.

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Corbel"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  2. Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0). Oxford University Press, 2009
  3. See for example, Maes Howe, a particularly fine Neolithic chambered cairn in Scotland.
  4. Summerson, John, The Classical Language of Architecture , p. 124, 1980 edition, Thames and Hudson World of Art series, ISBN   0500201773
  5. Oxford English Dictionary gives a similar etymology but from Latin corvellum or corvellus
  6. CRSBI website: St Mary and St David, Kilpeck, Herefordshire Archived 2012-07-30 at Archive.today

Related Research Articles

Medieval fortification

Medieval fortification refers to medieval military methods that cover the development of fortification construction and use in Europe, roughly from the fall of the Western Roman Empire to the Renaissance. During this millennium, fortifications changed warfare, and in turn were modified to suit new tactics, weapons and siege techniques.

Battlement part of defensive architecture

A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city walls or castles, comprises a parapet, in which gaps or indentations, which are often rectangular, occur at intervals to allow for the launch of arrows or other projectiles from within the defences. These gaps are termed "crenels", and the act of adding crenels to a previously unbroken parapet is termed crenellation. A defensive building might be designed and built with battlements, or a manor house might be fortified by adding battlements, where no parapet previously existed, or cutting crenellations into its existing parapet wall. The solid widths between the crenels are called merlons. A wall with battlements is said to be crenelated or embattled. Battlements on walls have protected walkways behind them. On tower or building tops, the roof is used as the protected fighting platform.

Pinnacle architectural element

A pinnacle is an architectural ornament originally forming the cap or crown of a buttress or small turret, but afterwards used on parapets at the corners of towers and in many other situations. The pinnacle looks like a small spire. It was mainly used in Gothic architecture.

Machicolation floor opening between the supporting corbels of a battlement

A machicolation is a floor opening between the supporting corbels of a battlement, through which stones or other material, such as boiling water or boiling cooking oil, could be dropped on attackers at the base of a defensive wall. A smaller version found on smaller structures is called a box-machicolation.

Entablature architectural element

An entablature is the superstructure of moldings and bands which lies horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals. Entablatures are major elements of classical architecture, and are commonly divided into the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice. The Greek and Roman temples are believed to be based on wooden structures, the design transition from wooden to stone structures being called petrification.

Murder hole hole in the ceiling of a gateway or passageway

A murder hole or meurtrière is a hole in the ceiling of a gateway or passageway in a fortification through which the defenders could fire, throw or pour harmful substances or objects, such as rocks, arrows, scalding water, hot sand, quicklime, tar, or boiling oil, down on attackers. Boiling oil was rarely used because of its cost. Similar holes, called machicolations, were often located in the curtain walls of castles, fortified manor houses, and city walls. The parapet would project over corbels so that holes would be located over the exterior face of the wall, allowing the defenders to target attackers at the base of the wall.

Jettying

Jettying is a building technique used in medieval timber-frame buildings in which an upper floor projects beyond the dimensions of the floor below. This has the advantage of increasing the available space in the building without obstructing the street. Jettied floors are also termed jetties. In the U.S., the most common surviving colonial version of this is the garrison house. Most jetties are external, but some early Medieval houses were built with internal jetties.

Table (furniture) piece of furniture with a flat top

A table is an item of furniture with a flat top and one or more legs, used as a surface for working at, eating from or on which to place things. Some common types of table are the dining room table, which is used for seated persons to eat meals; the coffee table, which is a low table used in living rooms to display items or serve refreshments; and the bedside table, which is used to place an alarm clock and a lamp. There are also a range of specialized types of tables, such as drafting tables, used for doing architectural drawings, and sewing tables.

Hammerbeam roof A decorative, open timber roof truss typical of English Gothic architecture

A hammerbeam roof is a decorative, open timber roof truss typical of English Gothic architecture and has been called "...the most spectacular endeavour of the English Medieval carpenter." They are traditionally timber framed, using short beams projecting from the wall on which the rafters land, essentially a tie beam which has the middle cut out. These short beams are called hammer-beams and give this truss its name. A hammerbeam roof can have a single, double or false hammerbeam truss.

Scottish baronial architecture style of architecture with its origins in the sixteenth century

Scottish Baronial is an architectural style that developed during the 16th and 17th century and was revived in the 19th century. The style of the first period, the original Scottish Baronial style, was limited to small castles and tower houses in Scotland and Ulster. It introduced Renaissance elements to buildings that preserved many of the features of the Scottish medieval castles and tower houses. The style of the second period, the Scottish Baronial Revival, was considered a British national idiom and was widely used for public buildings, country houses, residences and follies throughout the British Empire.

This page is a glossary of architecture.

Modillion

A modillion is an ornate bracket, a corbel, underneath a cornice and supporting it, more elaborate than dentils. All of these words are commonly used as verbs in a historic tense to describe neatly any particular structure, such as a parapet or eaves. They occur classically under a Corinthian or a Composite cornice, but may support any type of eaves cornice. Modillions may be carved or plain.

History of architecture field of history focused on architecture

The history of architecture traces the changes in architecture through various traditions, regions, overarching stylistic trends, and dates. The branches of architecture are civil, sacred, naval, military, and landscape architecture.

Comlongon Castle

Comlongon Castle is a tower house dating from the later 15th century or early 16th century. It is located 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) west of the village of Clarencefield, and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south-east of Dumfries, in south west Scotland. The original tower has been extended by the addition of a baronial style mansion, completed around 1900. Originally built by the Murrays of Cockpool, it remained in the Murray family until 1984. It was subsequently restored, having been vacant for some time, and the castle and mansion are now a hotel.

Hoarding (castle) temporary wooden (shed-like) construction

A hoard or hoarding was a temporary wooden shed-like construction that was placed on the exterior of the ramparts of a castle during a siege to allow the defenders to improve their field of fire along the length of a wall and, most particularly, directly downwards to the wall base. The latter function was capably taken up by the invention of machicolations, which were an improvement on hoardings, not least because masonry does not need to be fire-proofed. Machicolations are also permanent and siege-ready.

Jharokha

A jharokha is a type of overhanging enclosed balcony used in the architecture of Rajasthan. It was also used in Indo-Islamic architecture. Jharokhas jutting forward from the wall plane could be used both for adding to the architectural beauty of the building itself or for a specific purpose. One of the most important functions it served was to allow women to see outside without being seen themselves. Alternatively, these windows could be used to position archers and spies.

Church of St Mary and St David, Kilpeck Church in Herefordshire, England

The Church of St Mary and St David is a Church of England parish church at Kilpeck in the English county of Herefordshire, about 5 miles from the border with Monmouthshire, Wales. It is famous for its Norman carvings.

Rampart (fortification) length of bank or wall forming part of the defensive boundary of a fortification

In fortification architecture, a rampart is a length of bank or wall forming part of the defensive boundary of a castle, hillfort, settlement or other fortified site. It is usually broad-topped and made of excavated earth or masonry or a combination of the two.

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