Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A rectangular column with a capital and base, projecting only slightly from a wall as an ornamental motif.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A rectangular column that projects partially from the wall to which it attached; it gives the appearance of a support, but is only for decoration.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An upright architectural member right-angled in plan, constructionally a pier (See pier, 1 (b)), but architecturally corresponding to a column, having capital, shaft, and base to agree with those of the columns of the same order. In most cases the projection from the wall is one third of its width, or less.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A square pillar, with its capital and base, projecting from a pier, or from a wall, to the extent of from one quarter to one third of its breadth; an engaged pillar.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a rectangular column that usually projects about a third of its width from the wall to which it is attached

Etymologies

French pilastre, from Old French, from Old Italian pilastro, from Medieval Latin pīlaster : Latin pīla, pillar + Latin -aster, n. suff., or blend of Latin pīla, pillar, and Late Latin parastatēs, pilaster (from Greek, stay, supporter : para-, beside; see para-1 + -statēs, -stat).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French pilastre, from Italian pilastro. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • An anta may be described as a pilaster forming the termination of a wall.

    A History of Greek Art

  • Her husband had died when a pilaster of brick and smokey plaster came down on him like a wave.

    Bringing Them Home

  • An architect's flawless ink-wash rendering of a fluted pilaster surmounted by a capital of the Composite order is, necessarily, an abstraction.

    The Forever City

  • Decorative painter John Canning worked out an extraordinarily subtle color scheme in which chromatic background wall and ceiling tints "bleed" into one another — from pale yellow into a soft gold in the finely articulated plasterwork of the sanctuary ceiling, and from the greenish hue on the walls and arcade piers flanking the nave into the dark-veined, deep-ochre imitation marble of the pilaster shafts on the piers.

    A Return to Grace

  • Column and pilaster shafts are beige botticino marble while capitals and entablatures are painted plaster.schafphoto. com Like the shrine, the focus is again on a baldachin - here, with swirling bronze Solomonic columns and an exuberant superstructure inspired by Bernini's baldachin at St. Peter's.

    Holy Architecture

  • Column and pilaster shafts are beige botticino marble while capitals and entablatures are, like the pseudomarble pilasters in the shrine, painted plaster.

    A Return to Grace

  • The light "refracted" by the "material" of the mirror distorts the fluting of the pilaster seen behind.

    Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro

  • Found in an intarsiated pilaster-capital at Urbino and depicted as an object and emblem in both studioli, the scopetta had been absorbed into the emblems of the Montefeltro through Federico's marriage to Battista Sforza in 1460.

    Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro

  • This theme encircles the chamber in an ornamental interplay of olive branches (on the bench legs) and pomegranates (on the corresponding pilaster bases behind).

    Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro

  • And, in a tour-de-force of subtle craftsmanship, a rectangular glass mirror dangles by a rope from a pilaster capital near the visitor's entrance, "blocking" the "swing" of an adjacent cabinet door.

    Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro

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  • What is a alphalaster?
    What is an omegalaster?

    June 14, 2012