See caption
A caryatid from the Erechtheum, on display at the British Museum
Source: Wikimedia Commons

A caryatid is a sculpted female figure, usually clad in long robes, serving as an architectural support, taking the place of a column or pillar; their male equivalent is known as an atlas. Caryatids originated in Greek architecture, the best-known examples being on the Erechtheum, an ancient Greek temple in Athens (c. 421–406 BCE). Caryatids carrying baskets on their heads, rather than entablatures supporting a building, are known as canephorae.[1]

Caryatids fell out of favour until their revival during the Neoclassical period of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which returned to the forms of ancient Greece and Rome. A well-known example of caryatids from that period can be seen at St Pancras church London (1819–1822), modelled on those from the Erechtheum.[1]

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Bibliography


Staff writer. (2004). caryatid. In I. Chilvers (Ed.), Oxford Dictionary of Art (online). Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780198604761.001.0001/acref-9780198604761-e-693.