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Volute ( Latin volutum 'rolled, the rolled' ) is a French expression for a snail shape ( spiral ) in artistic ornamentation, especially in architecture.

Ionic capital with two volutes

In architecture, volutes can be found on consoles , gables and capitals . In ancient architecture, the shape is characteristic of the Ionic and Aeolian capital as well as the composite capital. The inner volute, the so-called canal , which rolls up like a snail shell , can be deeply fluted, flat or even filled with a round rod and accompanied by narrow webs. The center of the volute curl is called the volute eye. Volutes appear earlier on capitals in Egyptian architecture, where they are derived from the natural shape of the open lotus calyx. In the area of ​​ancient Attic ceramics , volutes often appear as a handle shape . It is particularly common in craters (volute craters).

The volute has played a major role in the facade design of basilica church buildings since the Renaissance . The angle created by the basilica structure of the building between the wide lower part of the facade and the narrower upper facade is often covered by a large volute. A volute is the S-shaped curved shape including the two rolled ends, the actual volutes. Leon Battista Alberti first introduced this scheme for the facade of the Santa Maria Novella church in Florence, thus creating the standard type of church facade in Renaissance architecture.

Santa Maria Novella, Florence, with volutes

In the late Renaissance, the volute is one of the basic elements of the architectural ornamentation of the scrollwork and tailwork . In Baroque architecture , volutes were used in a variety of ways as decorative elements.

In addition, the volute and similar motifs derived from it are used extensively in the ornamentation of numerous cultures, e. B. in the volute tendril .

The scientist Nicolaus Goldmann (1611–1665) described a popular geometric method for volute construction.


  • Volute. In: Lexicon of Art. Architecture, fine arts, applied arts, industrial design, art theory. Volume 7: Stae - Z. 2., unchanged edition, new edition, revision from 1994. EA Seemann, Leipzig 2004, ISBN 3-363-00286-6 , pp. 667–668.

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