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Catalog Data

Wrought iron, paint
86 1/4 × 26 1/2 in. (219.1 × 67.3 cm)
Victorian (1837-1901)
Wrought-iron double gates. Ornamental gates comprised of scrolled and twisted iron straps with floral medallions. The playful scrolls of this design are in the manner of the late-Regency style wrought-iron furnishings of the 1820s and 1830s. The most popular style of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century leading up to the Victorian era (1837-1901) was Neoclassicism. In America it has been called the American Empire style, Greek Revival, or Grecian style and was called Regency or Empire style in Europe. Neoclassicism was seen in painting, sculpture, furnishings, architecture, fashion, and even politics. This revival of classical taste was encouraged by the increased interest in classical, ancient, and antique forms inspired by recent excavations of in Italy, Greece, and Egypt. Neoclassicism pulled motifs, ornamentation, and forms from antiquity, as well as the Renaissance interpretation of the classical world. Elements of neoclassical design included fretwork, columns, palmettes, pilasters, acanthus leaves, tulips and lotus motifs, grotesque masks, processional reliefs, mythical creatures, laurel garlands, fruit swags, scrolls, tassels, fringe, passementerie, frieze decoration, lyres, and vases; as well as accurate depictions of flora, fauna, birds, and insects; and repeating patterns such as the Greek key and egg-and-dart. A characteristic of Neoclassical designs is strict symmetry of all the elements.
Label Text:
The gateway was often the first part of the property to be seen by visitors or passersby, and a gate made conspicuous in its size or finish was one way to make the entrance easier to find as well as making a statement about its owner. Gates were meant to be both functional and decorative, and the Victorians often took advantage of all the decorative embellishments available to demonstrate the family’s good taste and prosperity. Ornamental gates, either single or double, where usually made or wrought or cast iron due to iron’s durability, affordability, and the decorative possibilities of these pieces. It was usually paired with an iron fence; however, it was not unheard of to find cast iron gates with wood or stone fencing. Tastemakers suggested that the style of the gate be in keeping with architecture of the house and fences finish. Scrolls, family crests, and monograms were all popular design elements that might be incorporated into the designs.
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Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
1980.009.a, b, c
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens