History of Decorative Architectural Molding
The Encyclopædia Britannica (1911)
NEWOOD Moulding pages:
MOULDINGS, the term in architecture for the decorative treatment given to projecting or receding features in stone, wood and other materials, by means of curved forms, whereby those features are accentuated and varied owing to the play of light and shade on the surfaces. The principal characteristics of all the European styles are to be found in the mouldings employed in them and in their ornamental decoration. In some of the earlier styles, such as the Assyrian and The Persian, there are no mouldings: coloured bands in brick, enamelled tiles or beton, were deemed sufficient to mark the divisions of their storeys or to decorate their buildings. The Egyptians employed two mouldings only, the cavetto (fig. I), a deep moulding sometimes of great dimensions which crowned their pylons, temples and decorative shrines, and the torus, a semicircular projecting moulding which was carried above the architrave and down the quoins of their buildings. The Greeks were the first to recognize, in their temples, the special value possessed by mouldings which, occupying an intermediate position between the ornamental sculptures and the simple architectural lines of the main structure, gave a richly decorative effect to the latter without interference with the beauty of the former.
The Classic mouldings may be divided into two classes, simple and compound; to the former belong the cavetto (of small dimensions when compared with the Egyptian cavetto) and the Scotia (fig. 2), employed for the bases of columns, which are seen below the eye, both concave mouldings, whilst the ovolo or echinus—Fr. ore or quart de rand—(figs. 3 and 4) and the torus are convex mouldings. The compound mouldings are those composed of curves of contrary flexure, such as the cymarecta or cymatium (fig. 5), of which the upper part is concave and the lower convex, a moulding constantly employed for the upper member of the cornice, and the cyma-reversa or ogee (fig. 6)—Fr. talon—in which the upper portion is convex.
The Greeks sometimes varied the ogee moulding, the upper portion of which is turned back and the lower portion brought forward, and to this the term quirked ogee (fig. 7) is given. Another Greek moulding of compound form is the bird's beak (fig. 8), employed as a drip moulding above the corona. Of smaller dimensions is the astragal (fig. 9), a moulding invariably carved with the bead and reel, -which in Greek work is constantly used in conjunction with the enriched echinus and cyma-reversa mouldings (figs. 18, 20) and below the necking of Ionic capitals; and the listel or fillet, employed chiefly in the separation of curved mouldings one from the other; in the cymatium constituting its upper termination (fig. 5), and in the Scotia (fig. 2) its upper and lower border. In Classic work generally the cavetto is only employed for the apophyge under the capital and over the base, but in Roman work, as in the theatre of Marcellus, it sometimes took the place of the cymatium of the cornice. Although extremely simple in its form, the finest Greek moulding, and the one to which the Greeks apparently attached the greatest value, was the echinus under the abacus of the Doric capital. The earliest archaic example exists in the capital of the shafts flanking the tomb of Agamemnon at Mycenae (a, fig. 10), where it consisted of a large torus decorated with the chevron (see CAPITALS), and an apophyge carved with the petals of a flower; a similar decoration of the apophyge is found in two or three early Doric capitals, as at Paestum and Metapontum, but this is the only example known in which the echinus of the Doric capital was carved, though traces of painting and gilding have been found on them. Other examples showing the gradual development of the echinus are shown in fig. 10; b being from the temple at Corinth, c from the Parthenon at Athens, d from the portico at Delos, e an early Roman example (c. 60 b.c.) of the temple at Cori, and f from the theatre of Marcellus, where it nearly approaches the quarter round always employed in late Roman work and in the Renaissance.
There is one other important decorative feature which forms the most characteristic feature of the bedmould of the Ionic cornice, viz. the dentil cornice (fig. 11), derived originally from the ends of the squared timbers which carried the cornice of the primitive Ionic temple, and in the earlier stone examples copied more or less literally; it subsequently in the 4th century was introduced as a part of the bedmould of the cornice of the Ionic Order, the temple of Minerva Polias at Priene in Asia Minor being one of the best examples. It consists of a series of projecting blocks with intervals between them equal to half the width of the block. In the Greek Corinthian Order it was first introduced into the Choragic monument of Lysicrates. It was constantly employed by the Romans in their temples of the Ionic and Corinthian Orders, the finest example being in the bedmould of the temple of Castor in Rome, where it is twice the height of the other mouldings.
In the Romanesque style the mouldings consist almost entirely of rounds and hollows, the former known as the bowtel and in England, France, Spain and Germany employed to decorate or soften the angle of an arch mould. As the Romanesque arch frequently consisted of two or more rings of arches, projecting one in front of the other, to which rings the term " order " is sometimes given, the repetition of this simple moulding constituted an ample decoration by itself, but in the Norman work in England and the north of France there is found the constant recurrence of mouldings broken into zigzag lines and other decorations coming under the head of ornamental mouldings described below. The simple bowtel (fig. 12) was retained in France far into the Gothic period, but in the Early English style the mouldings (fig. 13) became lighter, being more boldly cut than in the Romanesque styles. Here again, as in the earlier style, each ring or order is enriched with a succession of alternate rounds and hollows, the latter very deeply cut, and a few small fillets. The bowtel also is brought cut to an angle which is sometimes emphasized by a small fillet; this is sometimes called the keel moulding from its resemblance in section to the bottom of a ship. Sometimes the angle of the ring is splayed, and the mouldings are worked on the splay, and this is very often found in the mouldings of the ribs of a vault (fig. 13a, giving greater lightness to the rib. The mouldings of the Decorated period (fig. 14) are more diversified than those of the Early English, and the hollows towards the end of the period become shallower and broader, ogees being frequently employed. One of the chief characteristics of the Perpendicular period (fig. 15) is the prevalence of large shallow hollows and the employment of two ogees in close contact with the convex sides next each other.
The French mouldings of the Gothic
period in Normandy and adjacent
parts follow very much on the same lines as those
in England, but in the south of France and
in Germany they are very much simpler, and one rarely finds the deep
hollow which forms the chief
characteristic of English mouldings.
In French flamboyant and late German
Gothic work the mouldings run through, penetrating one another; these
in Germany were sometimes cut off, having
the appearance of the smaller
stems of a tree from which some of the boughs have been lopped.
The ogee-moulding in
Greek work was always carved (fig. 18) with the Lesbian leaf (Fr.
rais-de-coeur; Ger. Herzlaub), which in Roman work received a
peculiar interpretation of the original design; not understanding the
modelling of the leaf and requiring a deeper shadow, the Roman drilled holes
in it and evolved another composition of two leaves, so that the outer edge
of the Lesbian leaf formed a trefoil cusp (Fr. talon trèflé),
constituting a new description of border, as shown in fig. 19, from
the temple of Castor at Rome.