Kimbernouns, Corbels & not Modillions

by robertmcnicol

So Comrade Kimber has requested a shout-out which is, truth be told, long-overdue. So – in another semi-regular feature I would like to introduce for your delectation a brand new compound noun.

The Kimbernoun.

Kimbernoun: n. A recurring post on the fashionable and informative web-log Split Pediment (written by the celebrated writer and raconteur Mr Robert T McNicol) taking the form of a visual encyclopedia and defining an architectural feature.

[I’ve just read that first paragraph back and it seems to suggest that the defining of compound nouns will be the regular feature. It won’t, of course. And both you clever people know what I meant.]

So with that in mind I give you the:

Corbel n. A bracket used to support, or imply the supporting, of a projecting feature such as a cornice, balcony or window frame. Often decorative.

These three corbels are featured on Brighton Town Hall (an impressively “correct” neo-Classical building). They almost certainly do nothing to actually support the balcony but they look like they do; they give the appearance of transferring the weight of the balcony to the wall it abuts and then down to the ground.

Corbels are often scroll-like in shape and can be small and understated in a Georgian style, like these little teasers:

Or doubled and topped with lions’ heads:

In this picture below, there are a pair of corbels used to support the top of the alcoved windows. But also there are a row of repeating brackets along the underside of the cornice. Whilst these may look like corbels, they’re actually Modillions.

Modillions are another Classical feature which reflect the original wooden beams which would have been used to support the roof on early buildings.

There you have it: the humble corbel.