Glossary of Medieval Art and Architecture
Types of Capital

capital Decorative element that divides a column or pier from the masonry which it supports.

Click on an image below to get more information about that type of capital.

Types of Capital
block, cushion, or cubic capital: A simple cube-like capital with bottom corners tapered. The block capital is particularly characteristic of Ottonian and Romanesque architecture in Germany and England.
Corinthian capital : A capital used originally by the Greeks in a system of supports called the Corinthian order. It is decorated with 3 superimposed rows of carved foliage (acanthus leaves) around the capital. At the comers of the capital there are small scroll-like volutes.
crocket capital : A simplified adaptation of the Corinthian capital. The crocket capital was commonly used in the Gothic period
foliate capital: A capital decorated with foliage elements.
historiated or figured capital: A capital which is decorated with figures of animals, birds, or humans, used either alone or combined with foliage. The figures need not have any meaning, although they may be symbolic or part of a narrative sequence. Historiated capitals were most commonly used in the Romanesque from the late eleventh to mid-twelfth centuries.
Ionic capital: A capital used originally by the Greeks in a system of supports called the Ionic order. An Ionic capital has a volute, or a spiral scroll-like carving, on each side as its major decoration. Ionic capitals are relatively rare in medieval buildings.

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Created by Jane Vadnal 05/97