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Pair of 18th Century Architectural Models of Classical Columns

$10,155.35per item


An extremely rare pair of exquisite, Grand Tour-inspired architectural models of classical columns, representing the Roman Doric and Corinthian orders of architecture. England, third quarter of 18th century. Why we like them Exquisitely carved from the best mahogany and having accents picked out in gold, these extremely rare survivals from the golden era of Classical architecture in Britain were perhaps intended for an architect's office, or for a study of a gentleman architect, such as Lord Burlington (1694–1753), who was famously known as the "Apollo of the Arts" and the "Architect Earl". Such exquisite and decorative objects were copied from ancient Greek and Roman originals, that aspiring architects could see and draw during their 'Grand Tour' in Italy, Greece, Turkey and etc. The only other comparable example of such rare objects that we came across was a set of three columns, previously owned by the late Sir Albert Richardson (1880–1964), architect, historian, writer, artist, teacher and sometime President of the Royal Academy –  sold by Christie’s London, 19 September 2013, lot 173 (£13,750). A comparable delicacy of the carving, in the manner of the 'St. Martin's Lane circle', suggest that our columns were very likely made by the same master-craftsman. The Doric and the Corinthian orders are called the canonic orders of classical architecture. Originating in the western Doric region of Greece, it is the earliest and, in its essence, the simplest of the orders, though still with complex details in the entablature above. In his monumental The Ten Books on Architecture, Vitruvius, who was an architect and architectural historian of the age of Augustus, associates the Doric order with the masculine proportions: 'the Doric column, as used in buildings, ... exhibits the proportions, strength, and beauty of the body of a man'. On finding that a man's foot measured one sixth of the height, the ancients applied the same principle to the column. The Corinthian order, with its delicate features and profuse ornamentation is, on the contrary, associated with youthful femininity, 'an imitation of the slenderness of a maiden', according to Vitruvius. He relates a touching story of a young Corinthian girl, whose life was cut short by a sudden death. Her maid gathered some of the girl's possessions and placed them in a wicker basket by her grave. An acanthus bud which happened to be just beneath the basket, 'put forth leaves and stalks ... growing up along the sides of the basket ... bent into volutes at the outer edges'. Callimachus, the famous sculptor and architect, who discovered the scene completely by chance, and according to Vitruvius, was inspired by it to create the new style of column. It appears that in the beginning, singular Corinthian columns were erected inside buildings constructed in Doric or Ionic orders, as votive elements. The earliest instance of such a column in history lies in the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae. The first structure to adopt this style externally was the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates to celebrate theatrical performance. Before Greek Revival architecture grew, initially in England, in the 18th century, the Greek or elaborated Roman Doric order had not been very widely used, though "Tuscan" types of round capitals were always popular, especially in less formal buildings. The first engraved illustrations of the Greek Doric order dated to the mid-18th century. Its appearance in the new phase of Classicism brought with it new connotations of high-minded primitive simplicity, seriousness of purpose, noble sobriety. In Germany it suggested a contrast with the French, and in the United States republican virtues. In a customs house, Doric suggested incorruptibility; in a Protestant church a Doric porch promised a return to an untainted early church; it was equally appropriate for a library, a bank or a trustworthy public utility. Dimensions: Height: 29.75 in / 75.5 cm and  27.5 in / 70 cm. Base: 9.75 in / 24.5 cm square.


  • Dimensions
    Height: 29.75 in. (75.57 cm)Width: 9.75 in. (24.77 cm)Depth: 9.75 in. (24.77 cm)
  • Style
    Classical Greek (In the Style Of)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
    circa 1770-1790
  • Condition
    Repaired: Possibly re-gilt. Refinished. Wear consistent with age and use. Minor losses. Minor structural damages. Minor fading. As to be expected with genuine items of about 250 years old: minor chips, knocks, cracks, historic splits throughout and etc. Minor historic restorations.
  • Seller Location
    London, GB
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU1781229519992

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping

    Ships From: London, United Kingdom
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 7 days of delivery.

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About the Seller
Located in London, United Kingdom
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Established in 2014
1stDibs seller since 2016
152 sales on 1stDibs
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