triumphal arch

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

triumphal arch. Type of formal gateway set over an axis to commemorate a victory or individual. In Roman Antiquity there were two basic kinds: a tall rectangular structure with a single arch (e.g. Arch of Titus, Rome (c. ad 81)); and an even grander building containing a large arch flanked by two smaller and lower arches (e.g. Arch of Septimius Severus, Rome (ad 203) ). In the history of architecture triumphal arches are important not only because they were precedents for many later such structures, but because they combined the arcuated and columnar and trabeated methods of construction. The Antique Roman type consisted of a large rectangular mass of masonry pierced by one or three parallel arches cut through the wider sides, with an engaged or applied Order, invariably set on pedestals, and a large Attic-storey over the entablature usually carrying a grandiose inscription. In the Titus arch the panel with inscription was set on the Attic over the single wide arch, but in the Septimius Severus arch the inscription stretched almost the full width of the Attic. Other arches of the three-arched type include the ‘Arch of Tiberius’, Orange, France (late C1 bc), and the Arch of Constantine, Rome (c.312–15).

The triumphal arch was quoted by Alberti for the front of the Church of San Francesco, Rimini (from 1446), and for the inside and west front of the Church of Sant'Andrea, Mantua (designed 1470): it was used on countless Renaissance façades in various combinations and transformations as it offered almost limitless possibilities for enrichment. It was often used as a centrepiece (e.g. the south front of Kedleston, Derbys., by Robert Adam (1759–70), and the Avenue d'Antin entrance to the Grand Palais, Paris, by Deglane, Louvet, and Thomas (1900) ), but was also revived as a free-standing monument during the Neo-Classical period (e.g. Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Paris, by Percier and Fontaine (1805–9) ). Some later triumphal arches were designed to have extra arches at 90° to the main axis (e.g. Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, Paris, by Chalgrin and others (1806–36), and the Thiepval Arch, Somme, by Lutyens (1920s)).


J. Curl (2001);
Mansuelli et al. (1979);
Meeks (1966);
M. Nilsson (1932);
Jane Turner (1996);
Watkin (1986);
Westfehling (1977)

views updated

triumphal arch, monumental structure embodying one or more arched passages, frequently built to span a road and designed to honor a king or general or to commemorate a military triumph. This form of monument was probably invented by the Romans, who built them throughout the empire. Examples exist in Italy, France, Spain, Asia Minor, and North Africa, dating from the empire. The typical Roman triumphal arch had a single arched opening in the earliest examples, e.g., the Arch of Titus, Rome (AD 81); after the 2d cent. a large arch flanked by two smaller ones became common. The piers were faced with columns and enriched with sculptures or bas-reliefs relating to the events commemorated, while above the entablature was an attic story for dedicatory inscriptions supporting a quadriga, a sculptured four-horse chariot group. Among the Roman arches remaining are that of Trajan, at Benevento, Italy (114), relating the story of the emperor's life, and those of Septimius Severus (203) and of Constantine (c.315) at Rome, honoring the military victories of the two emperors. In modern times some arches have been built to celebrate military triumphs. Among them in Paris are the Porte Saint-Denis and the Porte Saint-Martin, both erected under the reign of Louis XIV, and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, both built at the decree of Napoleon I. Other well-known arches are the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin; the Victory Gate in Munich; the Marble Arch in London; and the Washington Arch in New York City.

views updated

triumphal arch Massive masonry structure, containing one, two or three arches covered with a flat, oblong attic. Triumphal arches were originally built by the Romans to commemorate specific victories, and in imperial times only emperors could pass through them. They were decorated with bronze statuary and carved scenes. See also Arc de Triomphe; arch