Pediment

Pediment

Overview


A pediment is a classical architectural
Classical architecture
Classical architecture is a mode of architecture employing vocabulary derived in part from the Greek and Roman architecture of classical antiquity, enriched by classicizing architectural practice in Europe since the Renaissance...

 element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure (entablature
Entablature
An entablature refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals. Entablatures are major elements of classical architecture, and are commonly divided into the architrave , the frieze ,...

), typically supported by column
Column
A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces...

s. The gable
Gable
A gable is the generally triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof. The shape of the gable and how it is detailed depends on the structural system being used and aesthetic concerns. Thus the type of roof enclosing the volume dictates the shape of the gable...

 end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice
Cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

 moulding. The tympanum
Tympanum (architecture)
In architecture, a tympanum is the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, bounded by a lintel and arch. It often contains sculpture or other imagery or ornaments. Most architectural styles include this element....

, or triangular area within the pediment, was often decorated with sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

s and relief
Relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

s demonstrating scenes of Greek and Roman mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 or allegorical figures.


The pediment is found in classical
Classical architecture
Classical architecture is a mode of architecture employing vocabulary derived in part from the Greek and Roman architecture of classical antiquity, enriched by classicizing architectural practice in Europe since the Renaissance...

 Greek temple
Greek temple
Greek temples were structures built to house deity statues within Greek sanctuaries in Greek paganism. The temples themselves did usually not directly serve a cult purpose, since the sacrifices and rituals dedicated to the respective deity took place outside them...

s, renaissance, and neo-classical architecture.
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Encyclopedia


A pediment is a classical architectural
Classical architecture
Classical architecture is a mode of architecture employing vocabulary derived in part from the Greek and Roman architecture of classical antiquity, enriched by classicizing architectural practice in Europe since the Renaissance...

 element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure (entablature
Entablature
An entablature refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals. Entablatures are major elements of classical architecture, and are commonly divided into the architrave , the frieze ,...

), typically supported by column
Column
A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces...

s. The gable
Gable
A gable is the generally triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof. The shape of the gable and how it is detailed depends on the structural system being used and aesthetic concerns. Thus the type of roof enclosing the volume dictates the shape of the gable...

 end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice
Cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

 moulding. The tympanum
Tympanum (architecture)
In architecture, a tympanum is the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, bounded by a lintel and arch. It often contains sculpture or other imagery or ornaments. Most architectural styles include this element....

, or triangular area within the pediment, was often decorated with sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

s and relief
Relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

s demonstrating scenes of Greek and Roman mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 or allegorical figures.

History



The pediment is found in classical
Classical architecture
Classical architecture is a mode of architecture employing vocabulary derived in part from the Greek and Roman architecture of classical antiquity, enriched by classicizing architectural practice in Europe since the Renaissance...

 Greek temple
Greek temple
Greek temples were structures built to house deity statues within Greek sanctuaries in Greek paganism. The temples themselves did usually not directly serve a cult purpose, since the sacrifices and rituals dedicated to the respective deity took place outside them...

s, renaissance, and neo-classical architecture. A prominent example is the Parthenon
Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

, where it served as a palette for intricate sculptural detail. This architectural element was developed in the architecture of ancient Greece. In Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, and later architectural revivals
Historicism (art)
Historicism refers to artistic styles that draw their inspiration from copying historic styles or artisans. After neo-classicism, which could itself be considered a historicist movement, the 19th century saw a new historicist phase marked by a return to a more ancient classicism, in particular in...

, the pediment was used as a non-structural element over window
Window
A window is a transparent or translucent opening in a wall or door that allows the passage of light and, if not closed or sealed, air and sound. Windows are usually glazed or covered in some other transparent or translucent material like float glass. Windows are held in place by frames, which...

s, door
Door
A door is a movable structure used to open and close off an entrance, typically consisting of a panel that swings on hinges or that slides or rotates inside of a space....

s and aedicules.

A variant is the "segmental" pediment, where the normal angular slope of the raking cornice is replaced by one in the form of a segment of a circle, in the manner of a depressed arch. Both traditional and segmental pediments have "broken" and "open" forms. In the broken pediment the raking cornice is left open at the apex. The open pediment is open along the base – often used in Georgian
Georgian architecture
Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I of Great Britain, George II of Great Britain, George III of the United...

 style architecture. A further variant is the "Swan-necked" pediment, where the raking cornice is in the form of two S-shaped brackets
Bracket (architecture)
A bracket is an architectural member made of wood, stone, or metal that overhangs a wall to support or carry weight. It may also support a statue, the spring of an arch, a beam, or a shelf. Brackets are often in the form of scrolls, and can be carved, cast, or molded. They can be entirely...

. The decorations in the tympanum can extend through these openings, enriched with "Alto-relievo" sculpture, "tondo
Tondo (art)
A tondo is a Renaissance term for a circular work of art, either a painting or a sculpture. The word derives from the Italian rotondo, "round." The term is usually not used in English for small round paintings, but only those over about 60 cm in diameter, thus excluding many round portrait...

" paintings, mirrors or windows. These forms were adopted in Mannerist architecture, and applied to furniture
Furniture
Furniture is the mass noun for the movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating and sleeping in beds, to hold objects at a convenient height for work using horizontal surfaces above the ground, or to store things...

 designed, or inspired, by Thomas Chippendale
Thomas Chippendale
Thomas Chippendale was a London cabinet-maker and furniture designer in the mid-Georgian, English Rococo, and Neoclassical styles. In 1754 he published a book of his designs, titled The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director...

.
Some experts define "open pediment" and "broken pediment" as being the same thing.

Significant pediments in the United States


  • Apotheosis of Democracy
    Apotheosis of Democracy
    Apotheosis of Democracy is a public artwork by American sculptor Paul Wayland Bartlett, located on the United States Capitol House of Representatives portico's east front in Washington, D.C., United States...

     at the United States Capitol
    United States Capitol
    The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

    , Washington D.C.
  • United States Supreme Court building
    United States Supreme Court building
    The Supreme Court Building is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is situated in Washington, D.C. at 1 First Street, NE, on the block immediately east of the United States Capitol. The building is under the jurisdiction of the Architect of the Capitol. On May 4, 1987, the Supreme...

    , Washington D.C.
  • National Archives Building
    National Archives and Records Administration
    The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives...

    , Washington D.C.
  • Wisconsin State Capitol
    Wisconsin State Capitol
    The Wisconsin State Capitol, in Madison, Wisconsin, houses both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature along with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Office of the Governor. Completed during 1917, the building is the fifth to serve as the Wisconsin capitol since the first territorial legislature...

    , Madison
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison....

    , Wisconsin
  • Wayne County Building
    Wayne County Building
    The Wayne County Building is a lowrise government structure in Detroit, Michigan. It stands at 600 Randolph Street, and formerly contained the Wayne County administrative offices and its courthouse. The current administrative offices are located in the Guardian Building at 500 Griswold Street...

    , Detroit
    Detroit, Michigan
    Detroit is the major city among the primary cultural, financial, and transportation centers in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people. As the seat of Wayne County, the city of Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan and serves as a major port on the Detroit River...

    , Michigan
  • New York Stock Exchange
    New York Stock Exchange
    The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

     Building, New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

  • San Francisco City Hall
    San Francisco City Hall
    San Francisco City Hall, re-opened in 1915, in its open space area in the city's Civic Center, is a Beaux-Arts monument to the City Beautiful movement that epitomized the high-minded American Renaissance of the 1880s to 1917. The structure's dome is the fifth largest in the world...

    , San Francisco
    San Francisco, California
    San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

    , California
  • Missouri State Capitol
    Missouri State Capitol
    The Missouri State Capitol is located in the U.S. state of Missouri. Housing the Missouri General Assembly, it is located in the state capital of Jefferson City at 201 West Capitol Avenue. The domed building was designed by the New York architectural firm of Tracy and Swartwout and completed in 1917...

    , Jefferson City
    Jefferson City, Missouri
    Jefferson City is the capital of the U.S. state of Missouri and the county seat of Cole County. Located in Callaway and Cole counties, it is the principal city of the Jefferson City metropolitan area, which encompasses the entirety of both counties. As of the 2010 census, the population was 43,079...

    , Missouri
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
    Philadelphia Museum of Art
    The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest art museums in the United States. It is located at the west end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. The Museum was established in 1876 in conjunction with the Centennial Exposition of the same year...

    , Philadelphia
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

    , Pennsylvania
  • Severance Hall
    Severance Hall
    Severance Hall is a concert hall located in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. The hall has been the home of the Cleveland Orchestra since its opening on February 5, 1931...

    , Cleveland
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

    , Ohio