Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Medium:
Cast iron
Dimensions:
36 × 6 3/4 in. (91.4 × 17.1 cm)
Style:
Renaissance Revival
Type:
Posts
Date:
ca.1850-1920
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
Cast-iron post, possibly a fence baluster. The post includes connection points at the top and bottom, which would fit into other sections. The post has a fluted center with Neoclassical base and capital motifs. The major characteristics of the art, architecture, and decorative arts produced in nineteenth century are historicism, eclecticism, and mixing multiple styles together. Romanticism and interest in the past led to revivals of the styles, ornamentation, and motifs of the past, and throughout the Victorian era there was a rapid succession of confused style revivals competing at the same time. Interest in the unique and novel, rather than accuracy and perfection, led to mixtures from Classical, Baroque, Rococo, Renaissance, and Gothic in eclectic combinations. Rather than copy specific objects, motifs and forms were adapted to suggest the impressions and associations of an idealized version of the past. The Revival styles are not reflective of their times and are inconsistently applied, often resulting in styles attributed by the majority or primary 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. By the middle of the nineteenth century, mass production made cast-iron fencing readily available to the middle class, and it quickly became widely popular. Iron fencing was adapted to suit the needs of city or country properties in strength, design, and height, which generally ranged from three to seven feet. It was placed surrounding cemetery plots, gardens, fields, along railroad tracks, bordering sidewalks, around houses, churches, parks, and public buildings. Iron fences were manufactured in separate components, including posts, pickets, hardware, and finials, in a variety of designs and finishes. Fences followed the trends of the time with natural forms, ornamental motifs pulled from historic revival styles, and complicated shapes. Numerous combinations were possible, the most successful mixtures corresponded stylistically with the other elements, as well as the accompanying gates. The Victorian love of ornament saw many posts capped with finials or decorative motifs applied to the surfaces.
Topic:
cast iron  Search this
posts  Search this
Garden ornaments and furniture  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
1984.084.a
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq46a0301d2-63e6-4bd9-9ecf-d4fc3721041d
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_1984.084.a