Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Medium:
Zinc or aluminum
Dimensions:
24 × 19 3/8 in. (61 × 49.2 cm)
Style:
Regency
Type:
Bench ends
Date:
ca. 1850-1920
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
Zinc or aluminum bench end with saber back. The arm rest connects to the seat section with a large scroll. Below the seat the front leg is formed from an elongated S shape. The front and back legs terminate in backwards-facing scrolls and an arched brace connects them. The playful scrolls of this design are in the manner of the late-Regency style wrought-iron furnishings. The major characteristics of the art, architecture, and decorative arts produced in nineteenth century are historicism, eclecticism, and mixing multiple styles together. 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 the nineteenth century, cast iron manufactories were able to achieve a high enough temperature to produce fluid iron that was poured into intricate molds of compressed sand. Once the iron had cooled, it was removed from the mold. Rough places and sharp edges were then filed away before the piece was bolted together. It would then be painted, varnished, galvanized, or bronzed several times to prevent rust. Settees and benches were cast multiple sections, which were then assembled and bolted together. Customers had the ability to select from a broad range of different finishes, components, and design motifs. Designs followed the trends of the time with natural forms, ornamental motifs pulled from historic revival styles, and complicated shapes. Numerous combinations were possible, and pieces could be varied with the addition of a different leg, seat, arm, or back section. Ends could be attached to cast-iron backrests and seat grates, wood panels, or boards.
Topic:
Benchends  Search this
cast iron  Search this
ends: furniture components  Search this
benches  Search this
Garden ornaments and furniture  Search this
garden seats  Search this
outdoor furniture  Search this
settees  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
1984.063
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq4b7024efb-cc31-43d1-b478-2425eb83475c
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_1984.063