Carved wooden corbels can be found in a variety of traditional decorative designs. Some of the same patterns that are found in the decorative trim on ancient Greek and Roman public buildings are used for the corbels produced today. Those designs include the use of oak leaf and acanthus leaf arrays, a number of scrolling styles and, in a nod to the God Bacchus, the carved fruit and leaves found on grape corbels.
Plant life in general provides a corbel craftsman with an assortment of rich resources on which to draw. Floral patterns are found in a wide variety of architectural trim including crown moulding, chair rails, pilasters, pediments, crossheads and other architectural components that in earlier generations were used as ornamental platforms. Grape corbels are an example of a specific product using plant life as a decorative theme – a theme that in fact does go back to the ancient Greek city states and probably was an acknowledgement of the wine that was such an important product of this particular fruit.
- A typical medium sized grape corbel will have a cluster of grapes carved in deep relief on the lower portion of either side.
- Above the grape cluster, in the wider portion of the grape corbel, there is usually an array of leaves. The effective design is a representation of a grape vine, rather than just the fruit.
- The detail of a carved grape corbel and the depth of the relief are substantial; the grapes appear to be nearly hemispherical in outline.
- One attractive style of grape corbel has the leaves in bas relief raised from the corbel’s side while the grapes are recessed.
- The front of a grape corbel that is the width of a shelf bracket is relatively unadorned, with a simple surface that has two or three gentle curves to it. Wider versions may have floral ornamentation on the front as well.
- This design is a classic traditional choice that has not gone out of style for over two thousand years.