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Catalog Data

Cast iron, paint
11 × 6 in. (27.9 × 15.2 cm)
Elizabethan Revival
Victorian (1837-1901)
Ball shaped-finial adorned with ornamental patterns. This cast iron finial was possibly for a hitching post. 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:
A finial is a decorative feature on the top or end of an object or structure, and can be integral to the design or inconsistent and incongruous. In architecture, these ornamental devices, usually made of stone or iron, are employed to highlight the tops of domes, spires, towers, roofs, gable, or the corner or a building or structure. Finials may also be distinctive ornaments atop gates or gate posts, chosen to create the first impression of a visitor to the estate or garden. In the Victorian era, the love of ornamentation often led to the widespread application of finials in all their variations and manifestations as an adjunct to architecture and design. Of this era, critics often complained that finials served no purpose except to make a show. Impressive posts and capped with monumental finials were carefully chosen to embellish entries and raise the standard of the house. Smaller finials, often made of metal or wood were used as decorative devices on the tops or ends of poles, rods, furnishings and decorative arts objects. Flag poles, curtain rods, bed posts, clocks, and silver services were all popular locations for finials to appear.
cast iron  Search this
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Garden ornaments and furniture  Search this
hitching posts  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
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Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens