Further study of the characteristics of the coupled order

by Laura Morgante

The compilation of the worksite cards was followed up by the analysis of the data recorded in the Excel table to make them available for further studies (fig. 1). Firstly the data considered relevant for the grouping of the coupled elements according to categories was selected. The characteristics that have been examined are:

- the distinction between original, remounted and substituted elements identified thanks to the difference in materials, surface treatments, state of conservation, and collation with historical iconography;

- types of capitals: two different forms were identified - scalloped and bell. The former is common to the original (fig. 2) and substituted (fig. 3) capitals, which demonstrates that Muñoz used it as a prototype for the replacement elements. The bell capitals are all located on the south side and the diameter of their bases is decidedly less than the others (it ranges from 7 to 8.9 cm while the overall average is 9.19 cm) (fig. 4). They tend to be more similar in type to those predominant in the twin cloister of Sassovivo at Foligno.

- differences in the decoration of the capitals: all the ancient capitals have floral motifs with fluting that branches into a swallow-tail pattern at the base (fig. 2); this characteristic is evident only in certain substituted capitals (fig. 3); the varied nature of these latter can be explained by the procedures and time lapses during Muñoz's restoration, which was carried out over different periods.

- different forms of the sculpted separating band between the capitals of the coupled order, which can be divided into four distinct groups (fig. 5):

Fig. 5

type A comprises the majority of the substituted elements and some of the original ones; type B has a concave A-A' section and is present in the original elements with the exception of the couple CB48 (that has further anomalies since it is one of the few substituted elements whose capital has fluting that branches into a swallow-tail pattern at the base; type C can be found in 4 elements of which only one is original, the others are all replacements. Type C' occurs only on the south side of the cloister always accompanying the bell capitals.

Analysis of the data has led to the subdivision of the coupled elements into four groups and suggests that Muñoz did not use just one coupled order as a prototype, but reproduced a variety of the original types. Fig. 6 illustrates the result obtained, limited to the south side.

Fig. 6

The data on the state of conservation have also proved useful for reconstructing the succession of consolidation and restoration treatments. The following treatments have been identified:
- sealing between the elements of the coupled order with fused lead;
- cement filling;

- fine-grained white mortar filling;
- reintegration of losses with fine-grained white mortar;
- roughly applied sealing with a very liquid cement mortar and consequent levelling of the mouldings;
- wedging with small pieces of wood;
- presence of metal elements.

Fig. 7 illustrates the result obtained limited to the south side.

Fig. 7

Collation of the data has shown that the sealing treatments with lead cannot be attributed to Muñoz's restoration as they are not present in any of the substituted elements. Instead, the fillings with cement or fine-grained white mortar and the numerous wooden wedges pertain to his work.

The analysis of the structural data has confirmed a fluctuating tendency of the eccentricities of the geometrical center of gravity of the bases with respect to the overlying pulvin. This, in the majority of cases, derives from off-centering during assembly. These eccentricities must be added to the substantial rotations of the structure as a whole, the reasons for which should be the subject of further investigation. With regard to the state of conservation of the stone material of the coupled columns, various phenomena of deterioration have been identified thanks to a detailed study of the individual elements. For a summary of this data, please refer to the article by Elisabetta Giorgi.


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Fig. 1 - Extract from the excel table of analysis of data on styles and dimensions.


Fig. 2 - Original capital.


Fig. 3 - Substituted capital.


Fig. 4 - Original capital on south side.