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Catalog Data

Cast iron, paint
27 × 17 × 16 in. (68.6 × 43.2 × 40.6 cm)
Victorian (1837-1901)
Cast-iron pedestal with a Rustic roots and branches design. The pedestal is composed of three panels of tangled branches and leaves cast in high relief. Around the top is a rim of banded limbs. The base has root protrusions for additional stabilization. Rustic style was immensely popular in the Victorian era, and the height of its popularity occurred between 1840 and 1890. Rustic objects share a common aesthetic of being artfully assembled with materials harvested directly from nature to create a variety of furnishings and decorative objects for the home and garden. Rustic furnishings and accessories were thought to be especially suited to the garden, as they blended in with the natural landscapes. Rustic materials and motifs include tree branches, twigs, roots, burls, bark, pinecones, acorns, seashells, animal horns, and antlers. Rustic designs were often constructed from found objects or were cast or carved to appear like these articles. Rustic objects were usually irregular and asymmetrical to mimic the forms that would occur in nature. Rustic designs could be made following instructions in contemporary publications, but the popularity of the style led to the mass production of Rustic style pieces.
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:
1984.066.a, b, c
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens