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This article is about the architectural element. For the landform, see Pediment .

A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure (entablature), typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding. The tympanum, or triangular area within the pediment, was often decorated with sculptures and reliefs demonstrating scenes of Greek and Roman mythology or allegorical figures. It also consisted of many bright colours suitable to the nature of the building being adorned.


The pediment is found in classical Greek temples, renaissance, and neo-classical architecture. A prominent example is the Parthenonmarker, where it served as a palette for intricate sculptural detail. In the Roman Pantheonmarker no such sculpture was intended. This architectural element was developed in the architecture of ancient Greece. In Ancient Rome, the Renaissance, and later architectural revivals, the pediment was used as a non-structural element over windows, doors and aedicules.

A variant is the "segmental" pediment, where the normal angular slope of the raking cornice is replaced by one in the form of a segment of a circle, in the manner of a depressed arch. Both traditional and segmental pediments have "broken" and "open" forms. In the broken pediment the raking cornice is left open at the apex. The open pediment is open along the base – often used in Georgian style architecture. A further variant is the "Swan-necked" pediment, where the raking cornice is in the form of two S-shaped brackets. The decorations in the tympanum can extend through these openings, enriched with "Alto-relievo" sculpture, "tondo" paintings, mirrors or windows. These forms were adopted in Mannerist architecture, and applied to furniture designed, or inspired, by Thomas Chippendale.

Significant pediments in the United States

See also


  • Dictionary of Ornament by Philippa Lewis & Gillian Darley (1986) NY: Pantheon

External links


Image:Église de la Madeleine.jpg|The Madeleine Churchmarker in|The 2000-year-old Pantheonmarker in Romemarker, Italymarker.File:HHSeverenceHall.jpg|Severance Hallmarker, Cleveland, Ohiomarker

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