entablature (ĕntăbˈləchŏr) [key], the entire unit of horizontal members above the columns or pilasters in classical architecture—Greek, Roman or Renaissance. The height of the entablature in relation to the column supporting it varies with the three orders, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, but in Roman and Renaissance interpretations it is generally about one fourth the column height. The entablature's component members are the architrave, which rests directly upon the abacus, or top member of the column cap; the frieze; and the cornice, or topmost member. Essentially the entablature is a development from the primitive lintel, which spans two posts and supports the ends of the roof rafters. In Renaissance and modern designs the entablature is also used upon a wall as the crowning member or as a horizontal band, irrespective of columns.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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