See caption
Caryatid from the Erechtheum, on display at the British Museum
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, built in the early 19th century, modelled on those from the Erechtheum.[1]