The upper part of the Greek National Academy building in Athens, showing the pediment with sculptures

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.



The pediment is found in classical Greek temples, renaissance, and neo-classical architecture. A prominent example is the Parthenon, where it served as a palette for intricate sculptural detail. 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.

Swan-neck pediment at the Rev. Ebenezer Gay House, Suffield, Connecticut, 1742

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.

Open pediment, Masonic Temple, Aberdeen, Scotland 1910.

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.

Some experts define "open pediment" and "broken pediment" as being the same thing.[1]

Significant pediments in the United States

Broken segmental pediment at La Rotonda

See also

  • Gable
  • Temple (Greek)
  • Temple (Roman)


  1. ^ Harris, Cyril M., ed. ‘’Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture, Dover Publications, New York, c. 1977, 1983 edition p. 386


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

External links

Media related to pediments at Wikimedia Commons


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  • pédiment — [ pedimɑ̃ ] n. m. • 1937; angl. pediment « fronton » ♦ Géol. Glacis d érosion développé sur une roche dure, typique des régions désertiques. Aplanissement formé par des pédiments contigus (ou pédiplaine n. f. ). ● pédiment nom masculin (anglais… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • pediment — pedimént s. n., pl. pediménte Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  PEDIMÉNT s.n. (geol.) Câmpie de eroziune, situată la piciorul munţilor din deşert şi acoperită cu aluviuni. [< fr. pédiment, engl. pediment]. Trimis de… …   Dicționar Român

  • Pediment — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Pediment Se trata de un glacis modelado sobre roca uniformente dura. Su forma es muy similar a la del glacis, pero con diferencias tales como que el contacto con la pendiente es brusco, recibe el nombre de knick y… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Pediment — (lateinisch: Fuß) ist eine Gebirgsfußfläche, also eine schmale Übergangszone zwischen Gebirge und Ebene, welche im Gegensatz zum Glacis, schuttfrei ist. Nach H. Zepp: Geomorphologie (2004) wird die Pediplanation als Prozess der Bildung von… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • pediment — pedìment (pedimȅnt) m DEFINICIJA geogr. blaga kosina gorskog podnožja ETIMOLOGIJA lat. pes: noga …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Pediment — Ped i*ment, n. [L. pes, pedis, a foot. See {Foot}.] (Arch.) Originally, in classical architecture, the triangular space forming the gable of a simple roof; hence, a similar form used as a decoration over porticoes, doors, windows, etc.; also, a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pediment — triangular part of the facade of a Greek style building, 1660s, alteration of periment, peremint (1590s), apparently a dialectal garbling of PYRAMID (Cf. pyramid), the connection perhaps being the triangular shape. Sometimes associated with ped… …   Etymology dictionary

  • pediment — ► NOUN Architecture ▪ the triangular upper part of the front of a classical building, typically set over a portico. ORIGIN perhaps an alteration of PYRAMID(Cf. ↑pyramid) …   English terms dictionary

  • pediment — [ped′i mənt] n. [altered (after L pes, gen. pedis,FOOT) < earlier periment, prob. altered < PYRAMID] 1. a low pitched gable on the front of some buildings in the Grecian style of architecture: see PORTICO 2. any similar triangular piece… …   English World dictionary

  • pediment — pedimental /ped euh men tl/, adj. pedimented /ped euh men tid, meuhn /, adj. /ped euh meuhnt/, n. 1. (in classical architecture) a low gable, typically triangular with a horizontal cornice and raking cornices, surmounting a colonnade, an end wall …   Universalium

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