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Catalog Data

Medium:
Iron wire, paint
Dimensions:
38 × 15 1/2 × 21 1/4 in. (96.5 × 39.4 × 54 cm)
Style:
Regency
Type:
Chairs
Date:
ca. 1850-1900
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
Wirework side chair with scrolls. The backrest is formed from a U shape iron rod with diagonal wires radiating from the top, sides, and seat. Two vertical lambeth scroll motifs fill in diamond meshes at the top, and a horizontal lambeth scroll motif fills a central, diamond mesh. The saddle seat is covered by basket-woven crimped wires. The back legs are composed of straight iron rods, which terminate in an outward-facing scroll foot. The front legs are in cabriole form with inward-facing scroll foot. Horizontal and diagonal stretchers connect the four legs. Additional X shaped stretchers connect the back legs. Curved triangular brackets with a lambeth scroll motif give additional support to both sides of the front legs and the sides of the back legs. The chair features five different gages of wire in its construction. The playful scrolls of this design are in the manner of the late-Regency style wrought-iron furnishings of the 1820s and 1830s. Wrought-iron and wire garden seating was popular in the mid-to-late nineteenth century in both Europe and America. Wirework was a new material for garden furnishings, available due to the technical advances in the iron industry, which increased the versatility of the material during the Industrial Revolution. Iron could be worked into fine wires and wrought into the intricate and delicate motifs the Victorians desired. The strength and flexibility of the material opened new design possibilities for wirework furnishings. The frame of these furnishings was made from wrought iron and the supports and surfaces were made from wire strands drawn and interwoven by hand to complete the structure. With the proper interweaving and tensioning of the wires, stability could be achieved. These airy furnishings could also be embellished with curlicues, loops, scrolls, and basket weaves, and tangles of foliage. The French excelled at making delicate wrought iron and wire garden furniture in a wide variety of forms with novel designs. Iron strap, wire, and rod furnishings were promoted as being superior to cast iron in strength, durability, and affordability, in addition to being lighter weight and easy to move. These pieces were appealing for both the garden and terrace because they were less obtrusive than other types of garden furnishings due to the near invisibility of the wire. These pieces could also be placed in the cemetery, which was popular in the nineteenth century, when visits to the graves of loved ones was a regular occurrence.
Wrought-iron and wire garden seating was popular in the mid-to-late nineteenth century in both Europe and America. Wirework was a new material for garden furnishings, available due to the technical advances in the iron industry, which increased the versatility of the material during the Industrial Revolution. Iron could be worked into fine wires and wrought into the intricate and delicate motifs the Victorians desired. The strength and flexibility of the material opened new design possibilities for wirework furnishings. The frame of these furnishings was made from wrought iron and the supports and surfaces were made from wire strands drawn and interwoven by hand to complete the structure. With the proper interweaving and tensioning of the wires, stability could be achieved. These airy furnishings could also be embellished with curlicues, loops, scrolls, and basket weaves, and tangles of foliage. The French excelled at making delicate wrought iron and wire garden furniture in a wide variety of forms with novel designs. Iron strap, wire, and rod furnishings were promoted as being superior to cast iron in strength, durability, and affordability, in addition to being lighter weight and easy to move. These pieces were appealing for both the garden and terrace because they were less obtrusive than other types of garden furnishings due to the near invisibility of the wire. These pieces could also be placed in the cemetery, which was popular in the nineteenth century, when visits to the graves of loved ones was a regular occurrence.
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.
The garden in the nineteenth century, typical of Victorian style, tended to be excessively ornamental and complex, combining colors, textures, and materials through plants and garden ornaments. Garden furnishings, such as urns, plant stands, tables, and seating, became essential to the overall design. As an extension of the house, the garden required furniture, and outdoor seating found its way onto balconies, verandahs, and porches as well as across lawns and parks. Garden chairs typically had three to four legs, with designs adapted from the most popular styles for garden settees and benches. Armchairs were frequently made with matching side chairs, as well as benches, settees, tables, and consoles all in the same pattern as a suite or furniture for the garden. Designs for garden furniture 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. Chairs and other furnishings were strategically placed as the focal point or an accessory to create a specific feeling for a setting. Garden furnishings were used on porches and verandahs, as well as throughout the garden, to extend the architecture of the house to the grounds, providing a link between art and nature, manmade and organic. Cast-iron, wrought-iron, and wirework chairs were mostly for use in the garden although some designs were suited for indoor use as well.
Topic:
chairs  Search this
wire  Search this
wrought iron  Search this
Garden ornaments and furniture  Search this
outdoor furniture  Search this
side chairs  Search this
wirework  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
1980.016
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq4fe7693bb-a909-4789-af10-282529f62c0d
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_1980.016