A 'Caryatid' is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar and balancing an entablature on her head.
The Greek term karyatides literally means "maidens of Karyai", an ancient town of Peloponnese. Karyai had a temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis in her aspect of Artemis Karyatis: "As Karyatis she rejoiced in the dances of the nut-tree village of Karyai, those Karyatides, who in their ecstatic round-dance carried on their heads baskets of live reeds, as if they were dancing plants"
In Early Modern times, the practice of integrating caryatids into building facades was revived, and in interiors they began to be employed in fireplaces, which had not been a feature of buildings in Antiquity and offered no precedents. Early interior examples are the figures of Hercules and Iole carved on the jambs of a monumental fireplace in the Sala della Jole of the Doge's Palace, Venice, (about 1450AD). In the following century, Jacopo Sansovino, both sculptor and architect, carved a pair of female figures supporting the shelf of a marble chimneypiece at Villa Garzoni, near Padua.
In the 16th Century, from the examples engraved for Sebastiano Serlio's treatise on architecture, caryatids became a fixture in the decorative vocabulary of Northern Mannerism expressed by the Fontainebleau School and the engravers of designs in Antwerp.
In the early 17th Century, interior examples appear in Jacobean interiors in England; in Scotland the overmantel in the great hall of Muchall's Castle remains an early example. Caryatids remained part of the German Baroque vocabulary and were refashioned in more restrained and 'Grecian' forms by Neo-Classical architects and designers, such as the four terracotta caryatids on the porch of St Pancras, New Church, London (1822).
Height: 1.55 m (61”)
Width: 1.91 m (75”)
Internal height: 1.14 m (45”)
Internal width: 1.16 m (45")
Dimensions are given as for the original piece. Two iterations of the caryatid design are shown but please enquire regarding further size or style adaptations.
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