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Catalog Data

Cast iron
Height: 29 1/2 in. (74.9 cm)
Top: 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
Bottom: 12 in. (30.5 cm)
Renaissance Revival
Victorian (1837-1901)
Cast-iron post, probably for a fountain. The post has a baluster form, with a fluted column, and acanthus leaf motifs around the top. The fountain pedestals disguised the inner workings of the fountain and came in a variety of styles. Inside architectural balusters, human or animal sculptures, and rustic forms the water-uptake pipe traveled up to supply the spouts. When a fountain was comprised of multiple tiers, the pedestal under the first spill was usually larger and more ornate than the others, however the design motifs were typically compatible.
Label Text:
In the nineteenth century, systems of mass production and growth of the cast iron industry made fountains accessible to wider audience, including the middle class, yet they remained a symbol of elegance and pretention. By the mid-nineteenth century, fountain components were mass produced. Cast-iron pieces were created by pouring molten iron into 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. Since cast iron pieces were made in components and bolted together, numerous combinations were possible. Consumers were able to select from a range of figures, basins, sprays, and pedestals to create a somewhat customized fountain. The Victorian taste for highly ornate was fulfilled by the malleability of metal, which allowed for every surface to be covered with ornamental patterns and botanical subjects. Designs followed the trends of the time with natural forms, ornamental motifs pulled from historic revival styles, and complicated shapes. This satisfied the nineteenth-century tendency to combine of styles, along with elaborate, often whimsical motifs were available through the numerous options for waterspouts, fountain figures, balusters, basins, and coping—molded edging—for fountains.
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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