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Catalog Data

Ceramic, glaze
6 1/4 × 4 3/4 in. (15.9 × 12.1 cm)
Arts and Crafts
ca. 1880-1920
Arts and Crafts (1880-1920)
Cylindrical, ceramic vase with a very slight flare at bottom and greater flare at the top. There are six petaled flowers (possibly daisies) with straight stems in high relief all around the vase. The flowers vary in height and overlap. Two vertical ridges on opposite sides suggest that this piece was molded. The exterior is unglazed terra-cotta color with powdery green coloration in the crevices. The interior has a shiny, crackled glaze that is darker than the earthenware. Terra cotta was revived in the early twentieth century as part of the Arts and Crafts movement when there was increased interest in handmade objects.
Label Text:
Since ancient Egyptian times, containers for plants, flowers, herbs, and edible plants have evolved according to the needs, fashions, and technology of the time. Through the centuries, these vessels have influenced the horticultural and aesthetic role of plants, and allowed for their cultivation, transportation, and display. The Industrial Revolution in the 1800s brought mechanization and mass production techniques that allowed a variety of eclectic plant containers to be produced cheaply and efficiently. Cast-iron, china, terra cotta, and wooden plant containers were readily available in variety of styles and sizes. With a long historical tradition of designs and styles of containers to draw on in the nineteenth century, Victorians displayed their plants in a diverse collection of vases depending on the family’s income and taste.
In the 1800s, vases were made in endless varieties, both of form and material, at prices to suit almost any budget. Vases are intended to hold and support bouquets of living or dried flowers, or they might be purely decorative. It is their use and not their form that makes them a vase and not something else. Some held large quantities of flowers and plants, while others were made for only a single bud. The Victorian emphasis on the “appropriate” led to many containers designed for a specific flower or foliage, whereas other containers could hold almost any variety. Floral containers were often displayed in pairs on a shelf, table, or mantelpiece or as alone as centerpiece or accent decoration. According to many publications of the time, vase of flowers was considered one of the most beautiful adornments for the home or the church.
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Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Access to original artifacts by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to Smithsonian Gardens:
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens