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Pedestal, egg and dart motif

Catalog Data

Cast iron, paint
16 × 18 3/4 × 18 3/4 in. (40.6 × 47.6 × 47.6 cm)
Top: 13 3/8 × 13 3/8 in. (34 × 34 cm)
Victorian (1837-1901)
Cast-iron pedestal painted black. The pedestal is square shaped and has three consecutively smaller registers. The majority of the surface is unadorned except for a large egg-and-dart band around base of the uppermost layer. This design is typical of the Neoclassical style and remained popular throughout the nineteenth century. 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:
In America, urns have been a popular feature in the garden since the mid-nineteenth century and were frequently displayed similarly to sculptures, usually being positioned in a place of importance. They were commonly elevated on a pedestal, which might also be accompanied by a socle, plinth, or base. The word pedestal is derived from the French “piédestal” and Italian “piedistallo”, which translates to "foot of a stall” because it acts as a support. Pedestals are made from a variety of materials including marble, lead, stone, composition stone, bronze, terra cotta, and cast iron. Pedestals followed architectural and decorative arts fashions, and the design usually coordinated with the overall aesthetic of the piece it displayed. They might be simple or ornate. The primary motifs of the nineteenth century for urn pedestals included: slab, wreath or ‘Grecian’, floral or ‘Victoria,’ and cabochon or ‘Louis Quatorze.’ Large pedestals were frequently made of separate iron panels held together by tie rods.
Cast-iron urns were typically made in sections or might be all cast in one piece, and additional attachments such as handles, plinths, pedestals and bases were available. Since cast iron pieces were made in components and bolted together; numerous combinations were possible. Customers had the ability to select from a broad range of different finishes, components, and design motifs; also, many companies included a name plate on the base or pedestal furnished for each vase purchased. Pieces were also interchangeable which allowed for replacement parts or design variations by the addition of different handles, plinths, pedestals, or bases. The vast variety of decorative motifs and forms for elaborate handles, fully decorated bowls, fanciful balusters, and coordinating pedestals allowed for extraordinary combinations for urns in nineteenth century.
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Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
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Usage conditions apply
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Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens