The Tuscan Order

The Tuscanic Style, with its plain form and the absence of carvings and ornaments, is one of the oldest and simplest architectural form developed in ancient Italy. It is one of the five orders of classical architecture.

The Origins:

Etruscan Temples were very important: the Tuscan Order originated in them. The Etruscans were people whose civilization predated the foundation of Rome and at its height encompassed many areas around Rome. They two region known as Latium and Campania.


Detail of the four-row colonnade at the 17th century Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City.

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Tuscan columns were used for utilitarian and military buildings and they were considered strong and masculine. Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1554), an Italian architect, called the Tuscan order “suitable to fortified places, such as city gates, fortresses, castles, treasuries, or where artillery and ammunition are kept, prisons, seaports and other similar structures used in war” in his Treatise on Architecture.

Centuries later, the Tuscan form for wood-framed Gothic Revival, Colonial Revival, Neoclassical Revival homes with simple and easy-to-construct columns was used by the American builders.


Tuscan entrance

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Differences Between Doric and Tuscan order.

The Tuscan order can be considered as a variation of the Doric. If compared to the classical Doric order, the Tuscan presents some less severe elements. Probably it was first created by Romans. For example, there may be a base at the bottom of the column: you can recognize it by the presence of a molding below the capital, while the stem of the column is often smooth and without grooves.

The Tuscan Column is a Roman adaptation of the Doric. The Tuscan has an unfluted shaft and a simple echinus-abacus capital. It is similar to the Roman Doric in proportion and profile, but it is much plainer. The column is seven diameters high. Among all orders, it is the most solid in appearance.

Style Features.

  • Shaft sets on a simple base
  • Shaft is usually plain, not fluted (grooved)
  • Shaft is slender, with proportions similar to a Greek Ionic column
  • Smooth, round capitals (tops)
  • No carvings or other ornaments
Capital styles for the five major orders of Classical architecture. © Merriam-Webster Inc.

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The Tuscan Order Today.

We can find some important examples in:

  • Santa Maria della Pace (Pietro da Cortona, 1656) in Rome.
  • Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne (Baldassarre Peruzzi) in Rome.
  • Buildings in Europe that reach up to the late nineteenth century.
Santa Maria della Pace façade projecting from its concave wings: this, devised to simulate a theatrical set, has two orders and is entered by a semi-circular pronaos with paired Tuscan columns.

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Also in England:

  • Covent Garden by Inigo Jones (1633) in St Paul’s.
  • another English house, West Wycombe Park.
  • the Palladian house of Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire.
St Paul, Covent Garden (1631-8) by Inigo Jones
St Paul, Covent Garden (1631-8) by Inigo Jones

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