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Catalog Data

Helen Hornberger  Search this
Copper, oil paint
Overall: 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
Stem: 4 in. (10.2 cm)
Flower: 4 1/2 in. (11.4 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 Blue Violet (Viola sororia). Three purple blossoms each with five petals and an orange center are accompanied by three jagged leaves, all of which combines in a single brown stem.
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.
RHODE ISLAND: The Blue Violet (Viola sororia) was designated the official state flower of Rhode Island in 1968. The school children of Rhode Island had selected the Common Blue Violet in 1897 over ten other candidates, making it the first out of the states who claim the Common Violet as their official state flower. Illinois, New Jersey, and Wisconsin also recognize the Violet as an official state symbol. The easy-growing Violet appears as much in the gardens as it does in the wild in Rhode Island, though it is seldom found in the southern part of the state. Its showy flowers blossom from April to June. These can be picked and eaten or covered with sugar and used to decorate cakes.
copper  Search this
tôle  Search this
Artificial flowers  Search this
crafts  Search this
emblems (symbols)  Search this
flowers (plants)  Search this
Rhode Island  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