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Catalog Data

Helen Hornberger  Search this
Copper, oil paint
Overall: 15 3/4 in. (40 cm)
Stem: 10 in. (25.4 cm)
Flower: 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm)
Artificial flowers and trees
United States
Artist, Helen Hornberger, revived the techniques of French tole to create naturalistic representations of the state flowers. The artist used thin copper sheets as her base, and painted them with oil paint in the natural colors of the blossoms and leaves of the Iris (Iridaceae). Six large, wavy petals curve up and down alternately. The downward sloping petals have a short, peach-colored ruffle arching over them. The thick green stem has the receptacle with leaves of petals inside. The leaves are long and spear-like and were made as separate piece.
Label Text:
The Congress of Representative Women at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago proposed that each U.S. state and territory select a flower to represent their state in the “National Garland of Flowers.” This resulted in the National Floral Emblem Society. Each state has adopted to represent the state and its people based on their importance to the state’s history, economy, folklore, or native varieties. Tole artist Helen Hornberger created each artificial flower representing each state to create for a bouquet displaying America’s floral diversity.
TENNESSEE: The Iris (Iridaceae) was designated the official state flower of Tennessee in 1933. Originally, the Passion Flower had been named the state flower by the school children of the state and passed by the General Assembly in 1919. The new legislation of 1933 favoring the Iris failed to formally rescind the designation of the Passion Flower as the state flower. To clarify the situation, the Tennessee Legislature designated the Iris the “state cultivated flower” and the Passion Flower the “state wildflower.” Despite the confusion, the Iris was embraced by the state, and it was further honored with one of Tennessee's state songs, "When it's Iris Time in Tennessee." Iris flowers appear on the Tennessee license plate, and the state further celebrates its flower at the annual Iris Festival, where the Iris Queen is crowned. The Iris is a perennial that blooms in springtime across the state. There are many different colors and varieties of Iris and the state does not specify one specifically for the official flower. However, the Purple Iris is most commonly used to depict Tennessee’s state cultivated flower. Varieties of Iris are also recognized as the official state wildflowers of Louisiana and Michigan.
copper  Search this
tôle  Search this
Artificial flowers  Search this
crafts  Search this
emblems (symbols)  Search this
flowers (plants)  Search this
Tennessee  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection. Gift of Helen Hornberger.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens