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Catalog Data

Medium:
Cast iron, paint
Dimensions:
31 1/2 × 31 1/2 × 26 in. (80 × 80 × 66 cm)
Style:
Naturalism
Type:
Settees
Date:
ca. 1850-1890
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
Cast-iron settee in the “Grape” pattern, also known as the “Vine” pattern. The back, arms, and apron are formed from a pierced network of three-dimensional grape clusters and leaves on intertwining vines that appear to ramble freely. The back arches slightly and curves forward to form down-swept arms. The seat has a pierced, architectural pattern and is bolted to the frame. The legs are formed by splayed acanthus leaves. Iron rods attach to the legs creating a crossed stretcher for additional support. This design was created by Charles Young in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1850 and is one of the most recognizable patterns of the nineteenth century. It was so popular that nearly every foundry offered an interpretation of this design. Naturalism, the realistic reproduction of the beauties of nature, was a popular style in the Victorian era. Though it appears as early as the 1840’s in America, naturalistic designs continued to the 1900s. This was in part due to the influence of the natural sciences, and interest in nature and gardening, which spread through the upper and middle classes in the nineteenth century. Naturalistic designs incorporated floral, foliate, fruit, vegetal, and animal forms into furnishings and decorative objects for the home and garden. Popular subjects included grapes, cornstalks, ferns, Solomon seal or laurel leaf, passion flowers, lilies of the valley, morning glories, oak leaves, acorns, vines, and roses.
Naturalism, the realistic reproduction of the beauties of nature, was a popular style in the Victorian era. Though it appears as early as the 1840’s in America, naturalistic designs continued to the 1900s. This was in part due to the influence of the natural sciences, and interest in nature and gardening, which spread through the upper and middle classes in the nineteenth century. Naturalistic designs incorporated floral, foliate, fruit, vegetal, and animal forms into furnishings and decorative objects for the home and garden. Popular subjects included grapes, cornstalks, ferns, Solomon seal or laurel leaf, passion flowers, lilies of the valley, morning glories, oak leaves, acorns, vines, and roses.
Label Text:
Garden furnishings, also called outdoor or patio furnishings, are specifically designed for outdoor use. They are typically made of weather-resistant materials such as metal, stone, wood, wicker, and artificial stone. Cast-iron was the most popular material for garden furnishings and accessories from the mid-nineteenth to the early-twentieth century. This was in part due to systems of mass production developed in the Industrial Revolution that allowed outdoor furniture to be readily available and affordable to the public. Throughout the nineteenth century, as leisure activities increased, materials diversified, and technology was embraced, garden furnishings came to be regarded as domestic amenities and reflected changing styles. Outdoor furnishings, such as settees, chairs, fountains, urns, and tables were essential to fashionably appointed lawns, conservatories, parks, cemeteries, and gardens in America.
Cemeteries held a very important place in the lives of nineteenth century Americans. Rural cemeteries—such as Mount Auburn, organized in Boston in 1831 and Spring Grove in Cincinnati, Ohio, founded in 1845—were an integral part of American life. Cemeteries were beautifully landscaped and functioned much like a park. These retreats offered escape from the unpleasant conditions of the growing industrial centers. Families often planned special days, including a picnic, which were spent with their dear departed loved ones. The gravesites were elaborately landscaped and fitted out with furniture, fencing, and other accessories such as urns and statuary. Many of these pieces were the same designs and acquired from the same sources as the pieces chosen for the lawn and conservatory. Furniture manufacturers found a profitable market selling their wares as memorials, and identical styles were advertised and sold to furnish cemetery plots. Settees, which are two-person seats with a backrest and arms, were a popular feature of the Victorian garden. Most garden settees were designed to be suitable for use with a table and were frequently sold with matching suites of chairs, benches, and tables. Designs for garden settees followed the Victorian taste for eclectic styles and borrowed Classical, Rustic, Gothic, Rococo, Renaissance, and Oriental motifs; or they were chosen to blend with their natural surroundings in Rustic, animal, or botanical forms. In the twentieth century, many of these pieces were removed from family plots due to neglect and to make way for power mowers.
Topic:
cast iron  Search this
outdoor furniture  Search this
settees  Search this
cemeteries  Search this
commemoratives  Search this
Design elements  Search this
Design elements  Search this
Garden ornaments and furniture  Search this
garden seats  Search this
seating furniture  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
1979.008
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq440972ff7-9bb5-4ad1-9770-7e9b42d68d8f
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_1979.008