Egg and Dart is one of the most distinctive classical cornice styles. Prominent on cornice for millennia the pattern consists of oval shapes closely set with alternating vertical arrows, darts or anchors, typically moulded or carved in bas-relief.
Its origins and meaning are clouded in the mists of time but it is thought to represent shields and spears, a stylised shield wall. The ovolo (convex quarter circle section) moulding is so closely associated with the style that Egg and Dart is also commonly known as ovolo.
The earliest examples can be traced right back to Greece in the 7th century BC and capitals of the Ionic order. Initially the row of hanging “eggs” was more elongated but over the centuries the moulding evolved and the egg took on its now familiar shape. The dart evolved too from what looked like the stem of a leaf in the Greek era to an arrowhead or an anchor in Roman times. That wasn't the end of the creative cycle as leaf forms were combined with the cyma recta in Roman architecture to create dazzlingly complex and intricate cornice styles that were essentially turned-down leaves, but still recognisably based on the original Egg and Dart form.
Roman replicas are probably the models that inspired the modern Egg and Dart name, but they weren't the end of the story. During the Italian Renaissance classic Roman architectural style was adopted and adapted further, resulting in a widening of spaces between the eggs putting increased emphasis on the dart. Fascination with the ancient world and successive waves of neo classical revivals ensured Egg and Dart remained a popular moulding throughout Georgian and Victorian times.
We recognise the enduring popularity and elegance of the Egg and Dart style and it is a staple of our decorated plaster coving range. We sell cornice where Egg & Dart is the exclusive pattern and also designs where it is combined with other styles.