Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
....................... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary .

BAL a stir
Also called banister


1. A turned or rectangular upright supporting a railing or handrail, a series of such being called a balustrade

2. The roll forming the side of an Ionic capital. Also known as a pulvinus.

Balustrade (BAL a strade): A railing with supporting balusters

Balusters may be straight, turned or pierced.

Vase-shaped/vasiform balusters (as in left illustration above) were introduced about 1650. The narrow section is referred to as the "sleeve," while the wider section is the "belly."

The balustrade is undoubtedly a Renaissance, especially 14th century Florence, invention. (The Romans used lattice motifs.)

Cast-stone balusters were a development of the eighteenth century in Great Britain; cast iron balusters a development largely of the 1840s.

... double or symmetrical baluster, which means it has vertical symmetry with its bulbous sections stacked vertically ...

The more familiar Renaissance baluster form is the single baluster or a baluster with only one swollen section or belly, lending it a bulbous vase form. Like the double baluster, scholars generally agree that the single baluster form was inspired by Roman candlesticks ...  It is this shape that gives us the name for the type.

The word baluster is derived from the Italian word balaustro, which is the term for the flower bud of the pomegranate tree.

- Calder Loth, Classical Comments: Balusters (Online Dec. 2012)
Wittkower distinguished two types, one symmetrical in profile that inverted one bulbous vase-shape over another, separating them with a cushionlike torus or a concave ring, and the other a simple vase shape ...

The baluster, being a turned structure, tends to follow design precedents that were set in woodworking and ceramic practices, where the turner's lathe and the potter's wheel are ancient tools. The profile a baluster takes is often diagnostic of a particular style of architecture or furniture, and may offer a rough guide to date of a design, though not of a particular example.

- Wikipedia: Turning (Online April 2016)

Roof-top or roof-line balustrades are found in Neoclassical, , ..... Colonial Revival, , ..... Federal, , ..... Georgian Revival, , ..... Beaux Arts Classical,, ..... Italian Renaissance Revival styles

Found in derivatives of Classical Greek and Roman architecture - but not in Greek or Roman architecture - including Beaux Arts Classicism, , ..... Federal, , ..... Georgian Revival, , ..... Greek Revival, , ..... Neoclassicism, , ..... Renaissance Revival, , ..... Second Empire

See also: American staircases


Used as a stretcher between chair legs, or part of a chair back.

Commonly an elongated urn or vase shape.

Applied split or half balusters used as ornamentation and in a vertical series on a chair back

"... baluster forms are familiar in the legs of chairs and tables represented in Roman bas-reliefs, where the original legs or the models for cast bronze ones were shaped on the lathe, or in Antique marble candelabra, formed as a series of stacked bulbous and disc-shaped elements, both kinds of sources familiar to Quattrocento designers." - Wikipedia: Baluster

Definition #1 examples from Buffalo:

Definition #2 examples from Buffalo:

Furniture Examples from Buffalo:

Other Examples, not in Buffalo:

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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