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The Ionic order is one of the three canonic orders of classical architecture, the other two being the Doric and the Corinthian. There are two lesser orders: the Tuscan (a plainer Doric), and the rich variant of Corinthian called the composite order. Of the three classical canonic orders, the Ionic order has the narrowest columns.

The Ionic capital is characterized by the use of volutes. The Ionic columns normally stand on a base which separates the shaft of the column from the stylobate or platform while the cap is usually enriched with egg-and-dart.

The ancient architect and architectural historian Vitruvius associates the Ionic with feminine proportions (the Doric representing the masculine).[1]

Description

Ionic order: 1 – entablature, 2 – column, 3 – pediment, 4 – frieze, 5 – architrave or epistyle, 6 – capital (composed of abacus and volutes), 7 – shaft, 8 – base, 9 – stylobate, 10 – krepis

Capital

Ionic capital at the Erechtheum (Athens), 5th century BC

The major features of the Ionic order are the volutes of its capital, which have been the subject of much theoretical and practical discourse, based on a brief and obscure passage in Vitruvius.[2] The only tools required to design these features were a straight-edge, a right angle, string (to establish half-lengths) and a compass. Below the volutes, the Ionic column may have a wide collar or banding separating the capital from the fluted shaft (as in, for example, the neoclassical mansion Castle Coole), or a swag of fruit and flowers may swing from the clefts or "neck" formed by the volutes.

Originally, the volutes lay in a single plane (illustration at right); then it was seen that they could be angled out on the corners. This feature of the Ionic order made it more pliant and satisfactory than the Doric to critical eyes in the 4th century BC: angling the volutes on the corner columns ensured that they "read" equally when seen from either front or side facade. However, some classical artists viewed this as unsatisfactory, feeling that the placement of Ionic columns at building corners required a distortion at the expense of the capital's structural logic; the Corinthian order would solve this by reading equally well from all angles.[3] The 16th-century Renaissance architect and theorist Vincenzo Scamozzi designed a version of such a perfectly four-sided Ionic capital that it

The Ionic capital is characterized by the use of volutes. The Ionic columns normally stand on a base which separates the shaft of the column from the stylobate or platform while the cap is usually enriched with egg-and-dart.

The ancient architect and architectural historian Vitruvius associates the Ionic with feminine proportions (the Doric representing the masculine).[1]

The major features of the Ionic order are the volutes of its capital, which have been the subject of much theoretical and practical discourse, based on a brief and obscure passage in Vitruvius.[2] The only tools required to design these features were a straight-edge, a right angle, string (to establish half-lengths) and a compass. Below the volutes, the Ionic column may have a wide collar or banding separating the capital from the fluted shaft (as in, for example, the neoclassical mansion Castle Coole), or a swag of fruit and flowers may swing from the clefts or "neck" formed by the volutes.

Originally, the volutes lay in a single plane (illustration at right); then it was seen that they could be angled out on the corners. This feature of the Ionic order made it more pliant and satisfactory than the Doric to critical eyes in the 4th century BC: angling the volutes on the corner columns ensured that they "read" equally when seen from either front or side facade. However, some classical artists viewed this as unsatisfactory, feeling that the placement of Ionic columns at building corners required a distortion at the expense of the capital's structural logic; the Corinthian order would solve this by reading equally well from all angles.[3] The 16th-century Renaissance architect and theorist Vincenzo Scamozzi designed a version of such a perfectly four-sided Ionic capital that it became standard; when a Greek Ionic order was eventually reintroduced in the later 18th century Greek Revival, it conveyed an air of archaic freshness and primitive, perhaps even republican, vitality.[4]

Columns and entablature

The Ionic column is always more slender than the Doric; therefore, it always has a base:[5] Ionic columns are eight and nine column-diameters tall, and even more in the Antebellum colonnades of late American Greek Revival plantation houses.[citation needed]

Ionic columns are most often fluted. After a little early experimentation, the number of hollow flutes in the shaft settled at 24. This standardization kept the fluting in a familiar proportion to the diameter of the column at any scale, even when the height of the column was exaggerated. Roman fluting leaves a little of the column surface between each hollow; Greek fluting runs out to a knife edge that was easily scarred.

In some instances, the fluting has been omitted. English architect Inigo Jones introduced a note of sobriety with plain Ionic columns on his Banqueting House, Whitehall, London, and when Beaux-Arts architect John Russell Pope wanted to convey the manly stamina combined with intellect of Theodore Roosevelt, he left colossal Ionic columns unfluted on the Roosevelt memorial at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, for an unusual impression of strength and stature. Wabash Railroad architect R.E. Mohr included eight unfluted Ionic frontal columns on his 1928 design for the railroad's St. Louis suburban stop Delmar Station.