AskDefine | Define corbel

Dictionary Definition

corbel n : (architecture) a triangular bracket of brick or stone (usually of slight extent) [syn: truss] v : furnish with a corbel

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A structural member jutting out of a wall to carry a superincumbent weight.


Related terms

Extensive Definition

For the town in France, see Corbel, Savoie. For the Windows Vista typeface, see Corbel (typeface).
In architecture a corbel (or console) is a piece of stone jutting out of a wall to carry any superincumbent weight. A piece of timber projecting in the same way was called a "tassel" or a "bragger". The technique of corbelling, where rows of corbels deeply keyed inside a wall support a projecting wall or parapet, has been used since Neolithic times. It is common in Medieval architecture and in the Scottish baronial style as well as in the Classical architectural vocabulary, such as the modillions of a Corinthian cornice and in ancient Chinese architecture.
The word "corbel" comes from Old French and derives from the Latin corbellus, a diminutive of corvus (a raven) which refers to the beak-like appearance. Similarly, the French refer to a corbel as corbeau (a crow) or as cul-de-lampe, Italians as mensola, the Germans as Kragstein. The usual word in French for a corbel in a Classical context is modillon. A corbeau is a bracket-corbel, which is usually a load-bearing internal feature. A cul-de-lampe is a kind of bracket-corbel supporting a vault. In traditional Chinese architecture, such a load-bearing structural element is called dougong and has been used since the late centuries BCE.

Decorated corbels

Norman (Romanesque) corbels often have a plain appearance, although they may be elaborately carved with stylised heads of humans, animals or imaginary "beasts", and sometimes with other motifs (Kilpeck church in Herefordshire is a notable example, with 85 of its original 91 carved corbels still surviving).
Similarly, in the Early English period, corbels were sometimes elaborately carved, as at Lincoln Cathedral, and sometimes more simply so. Corbels sometimes end with a point apparently growing into the wall, or forming a knot, and often are supported by angels and other figures. In the later periods the carved foliage and other ornaments used on corbels resemble those used in the capitals of columns.
Throughout England, in half-timber work, wooden corbels abound, carrying window-sills or oriel windows in wood, which also are often carved.

In Classical architecture

The corbels carrying balconies in Italy and France were sometimes of great size and richly carved, and some of the finest examples of the Italian "Cinquecento" (16th century) style are found in them. Taking a cue from sixteenth-century practice, the Paris-trained designers of Beaux-arts architecture were encouraged to show imagination in varying corbels

Corbel tables



corbel in Czech: Konzola (architektura)
corbel in German: Konsole (Architektur)
corbel in Spanish: Ménsula
corbel in French: Corbeau (architecture)
corbel in Italian: Mensola
corbel in Georgian: ბრჯენი
corbel in Dutch: Kraagsteen
corbel in Polish: Konsola (architektura)
corbel in Portuguese: Mísula
corbel in Russian: Консоль (архитектура)
corbel in Swedish: Kragsten
corbel in Thai: คันทวย
corbel in Chinese: 叠涩
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