Ogee Coving & Cornice

Our Ogee coving and cornice

The Ogee (or cyma recta) moulding is a double curve that resembles an "S": concave (cavetto) in the upper half and convex (ovolo) in the lower half. It is a very appropriate choice for plaster coving as with only a few exceptions it was typically the uppermost moulding on the cornice of all the ancient architectural orders. Whether the Ogee curves of the "S" are elongated or fuller in shape will respectively point to either a Greek or Roman derivation.

The shadowy appeal of Ogee

The appeal of Ogee moulding also lays in the interplay of the small shadow lines it creates across its surface, baring in mind that originally these mouldings were outdoors in direct sunlight. Subtle shadows created by the cavetto section under a filet and the overhang of the ovolo curve, separated by a strip of the moulding in full light, adds interest and depth to a cornice. Room lighting effects therefore should be considered and experimented with before fixing Ogee coving in place.

Cyma recta or cyma reversa?

It is perfectly acceptable to reverse the coving so that the convex part of the curve is uppermost and the concave element below. This is known in architectural terminology as a reverse Ogee, or cyma reversa. In antiquity the reverse Ogee evolved to accept a tongue and dart decoration and is also found in the cornices of all the architectural orders, but it was often smaller in scale than the cyma recta. It's a question of preference not orthodoxy, which way you fit it.

Ogee is a very popular moulding

Before installing plaster coving, look around your property because the Ogee curve is often present elsewhere. Internally, Ogee is a very popular choice for skirting boards and architraves. In addition it is found in fine pieces of Georgian, Victorian and later furniture and is often present in the cornice and pediment of many "period" fitted kitchens. Externally it can also be seen on some cast iron guttering. If the moulding is already present in a property then installing Ogee cornice instinctively looks right. Ogee never goes out of fashion.

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