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Catalog Data

Medium:
Cast iron, paint
Style:
Naturalism
Type:
Fragments
Date:
ca. 1850-1920
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
Branch and Leaf Motif, Fragment, Cast Iron bench fragment Cast-iron settee/side chair/bench/armchair in the “Fern” or “Fern with blackberries” pattern. This naturalistic design is formed by pierced, interlacing vines and foliage. The backrest is formed by fern leaves arranged with strict symmetry on either side of a central frond. The fronds are encircled with an interlacing motif, which highlight the clusters of blackberries in diamond shapes hanging from the top rail of the seatback. The ends of the back curve forward to form the armrests. The seat is formed from openwork, interlacing scrolls/wooden boards. The legs are vine-like and terminate in plain ball feet. Ferns were a favorite plant of the Victorian era, so much so that the term “Pteridomania”- meaning “fern craze” - was coined. Ferns were considered the pinnacle of good taste, and nearly every upper- and middle-class home had live fern plants on display in the nineteenth century. The fern craze went beyond just the live plants, fern motifs were firmly connected with the fashion and décor of the time. A fascination with the form, color, and texture of ferns led to multiple fern motifs that were cast, carved, painted, and etched on every type of objects. The motif on this bench/chair/settee is the Boston or sword fern, and it was the most exuberantly celebrated in the fern craze. This design was one of the bestselling patterns for cast-iron furnishings in the nineteenth century, and variations of it were produced by most foundries in the United States. Naturalism, the realistic reproduction of the beauties of nature, was a popular style in the Victorian era. Though it appears as early as the 1840’s in America, naturalistic designs continued to the 1900s. This was in part due to the influence of the natural sciences, and interest in nature and gardening, which spread through the upper and middle classes in the nineteenth century. Naturalistic designs incorporated floral, foliate, fruit, vegetal, and animal forms into furnishings and decorative objects for the home and garden. Popular subjects included grapes, cornstalks, ferns, Solomon seal or laurel leaf, passion flowers, lilies of the valley, morning glories, oak leaves, acorns, vines, and roses. 500: The fern leaves are arranged with strict symmetry around a central frond in a slightly arched back supported by intertwining stems. The central frond curls slightly over the crest rail. Blackberries appear to be suspended from the crest rail in small square or diamond shaped bands running around the perimeter. Ends curve forward to form downswept arms joined to arched trestle-like supports. An openwork seat of interlacing scrolls on the bowed front of the settee connects to slightly curved vinelike legs terminating in plain rounded feet. 500: First appearing in the 1875 J. L. Mott Iron Works catalogue, by the time of the publication of the 1895 catalogue, the Fern Settee is described as having, “a wood or iron seat with wood seats painted Oak and ironwork bronzed or galvanized”. Ferns were common symbols for sincerity. 500: Henry J. Kauffman writes, “Early architects achieved extremely happy effects inspired by the luxuriant plant life of their own climate. The live oak, the rose vine, and the morning glory are only a few of the infinite number of designs.” Naturalistic depictions of “tamed nature” are precise but manipulated views of reality. The work of Thomas Cole encouraged Americans to develop a taste for imperfect nature, “All nature is not true…the imitation of art should be the imitation of the perfect as far as can be in Nature…” A.J. Davis and A.J. Downing advocated that the designer’s work was to strengthen the expression of the wild irregular aspects of American nature. Since nature is readily accessible, a taste for naturalistic design did not need to be specially cultivated as much as an appreciation for such a commonly available design motif. John Neal, one of America’s major 19th century art critics wrote, “Nature is not seen through pictures but pictures instruct on how to see Nature.” Wealthy Americans experienced the beauty of nature while on the Grand Tour of Europe. Their constant contact with cultivated antiquity contrasted with their lack of experience of the raw antiquity of the American wilderness, Nature was not an element to confront with awe in its new and primitive state, but a familiar concept drenched in poetry, footprinted by the great civilizations.
bench fragment Cast-iron settee/side chair/bench/armchair in the “Fern” or “Fern with blackberries” pattern. This naturalistic design is formed by pierced, interlacing vines and foliage. The backrest is formed by fern leaves arranged with strict symmetry on either side of a central frond. The fronds are encircled with an interlacing motif, which highlight the clusters of blackberries in diamond shapes hanging from the top rail of the seatback. The ends of the back curve forward to form the armrests. The seat is formed from openwork, interlacing scrolls/wooden boards. The legs are vine-like and terminate in plain ball feet. Ferns were a favorite plant of the Victorian era, so much so that the term “Pteridomania”- meaning “fern craze” - was coined. Ferns were considered the pinnacle of good taste, and nearly every upper- and middle-class home had live fern plants on display in the nineteenth century. The fern craze went beyond just the live plants, fern motifs were firmly connected with the fashion and décor of the time. A fascination with the form, color, and texture of ferns led to multiple fern motifs that were cast, carved, painted, and etched on every type of objects. The motif on this bench/chair/settee is the Boston or sword fern, and it was the most exuberantly celebrated in the fern craze. This design was one of the bestselling patterns for cast-iron furnishings in the nineteenth century, and variations of it were produced by most foundries in the United States. Naturalism, the realistic reproduction of the beauties of nature, was a popular style in the Victorian era. Though it appears as early as the 1840’s in America, naturalistic designs continued to the 1900s. This was in part due to the influence of the natural sciences, and interest in nature and gardening, which spread through the upper and middle classes in the nineteenth century. Naturalistic designs incorporated floral, foliate, fruit, vegetal, and animal forms into furnishings and decorative objects for the home and garden. Popular subjects included grapes, cornstalks, ferns, Solomon seal or laurel leaf, passion flowers, lilies of the valley, morning glories, oak leaves, acorns, vines, and roses. 500: The fern leaves are arranged with strict symmetry around a central frond in a slightly arched back supported by intertwining stems. The central frond curls slightly over the crest rail. Blackberries appear to be suspended from the crest rail in small square or diamond shaped bands running around the perimeter. Ends curve forward to form downswept arms joined to arched trestle-like supports. An openwork seat of interlacing scrolls on the bowed front of the settee connects to slightly curved vinelike legs terminating in plain rounded feet. 500: First appearing in the 1875 J. L. Mott Iron Works catalogue, by the time of the publication of the 1895 catalogue, the Fern Settee is described as having, “a wood or iron seat with wood seats painted Oak and ironwork bronzed or galvanized”. Ferns were common symbols for sincerity. 500: Henry J. Kauffman writes, “Early architects achieved extremely happy effects inspired by the luxuriant plant life of their own climate. The live oak, the rose vine, and the morning glory are only a few of the infinite number of designs.” Naturalistic depictions of “tamed nature” are precise but manipulated views of reality. The work of Thomas Cole encouraged Americans to develop a taste for imperfect nature, “All nature is not true…the imitation of art should be the imitation of the perfect as far as can be in Nature…” A.J. Davis and A.J. Downing advocated that the designer’s work was to strengthen the expression of the wild irregular aspects of American nature. Since nature is readily accessible, a taste for naturalistic design did not need to be specially cultivated as much as an appreciation for such a commonly available design motif. John Neal, one of America’s major 19th century art critics wrote, “Nature is not seen through pictures but pictures instruct on how to see Nature.” Wealthy Americans experienced the beauty of nature while on the Grand Tour of Europe. Their constant contact with cultivated antiquity contrasted with their lack of experience of the raw antiquity of the American wilderness, Nature was not an element to confront with awe in its new and primitive state, but a familiar concept drenched in poetry, footprinted by the great civilizations.
Cast-iron settee/side chair/bench/armchair in the “Fern” or “Fern with blackberries” pattern. This naturalistic design is formed by pierced, interlacing vines and foliage. The backrest is formed by fern leaves arranged with strict symmetry on either side of a central frond. The fronds are encircled with an interlacing motif, which highlight the clusters of blackberries in diamond shapes hanging from the top rail of the seatback. The ends of the back curve forward to form the armrests. The seat is formed from openwork, interlacing scrolls/wooden boards. The legs are vine-like and terminate in plain ball feet. Ferns were a favorite plant of the Victorian era, so much so that the term “Pteridomania”- meaning “fern craze” - was coined. Ferns were considered the pinnacle of good taste, and nearly every upper- and middle-class home had live fern plants on display in the nineteenth century. The fern craze went beyond just the live plants, fern motifs were firmly connected with the fashion and décor of the time. A fascination with the form, color, and texture of ferns led to multiple fern motifs that were cast, carved, painted, and etched on every type of objects. The motif on this bench/chair/settee is the Boston or sword fern, and it was the most exuberantly celebrated in the fern craze. This design was one of the bestselling patterns for cast-iron furnishings in the nineteenth century, and variations of it were produced by most foundries in the United States. Naturalism, the realistic reproduction of the beauties of nature, was a popular style in the Victorian era. Though it appears as early as the 1840’s in America, naturalistic designs continued to the 1900s. This was in part due to the influence of the natural sciences, and interest in nature and gardening, which spread through the upper and middle classes in the nineteenth century. Naturalistic designs incorporated floral, foliate, fruit, vegetal, and animal forms into furnishings and decorative objects for the home and garden. Popular subjects included grapes, cornstalks, ferns, Solomon seal or laurel leaf, passion flowers, lilies of the valley, morning glories, oak leaves, acorns, vines, and roses. 500: The fern leaves are arranged with strict symmetry around a central frond in a slightly arched back supported by intertwining stems. The central frond curls slightly over the crest rail. Blackberries appear to be suspended from the crest rail in small square or diamond shaped bands running around the perimeter. Ends curve forward to form downswept arms joined to arched trestle-like supports. An openwork seat of interlacing scrolls on the bowed front of the settee connects to slightly curved vinelike legs terminating in plain rounded feet. 500: First appearing in the 1875 J. L. Mott Iron Works catalogue, by the time of the publication of the 1895 catalogue, the Fern Settee is described as having, “a wood or iron seat with wood seats painted Oak and ironwork bronzed or galvanized”. Ferns were common symbols for sincerity. 500: Henry J. Kauffman writes, “Early architects achieved extremely happy effects inspired by the luxuriant plant life of their own climate. The live oak, the rose vine, and the morning glory are only a few of the infinite number of designs.” Naturalistic depictions of “tamed nature” are precise but manipulated views of reality. The work of Thomas Cole encouraged Americans to develop a taste for imperfect nature, “All nature is not true…the imitation of art should be the imitation of the perfect as far as can be in Nature…” A.J. Davis and A.J. Downing advocated that the designer’s work was to strengthen the expression of the wild irregular aspects of American nature. Since nature is readily accessible, a taste for naturalistic design did not need to be specially cultivated as much as an appreciation for such a commonly available design motif. John Neal, one of America’s major 19th century art critics wrote, “Nature is not seen through pictures but pictures instruct on how to see Nature.” Wealthy Americans experienced the beauty of nature while on the Grand Tour of Europe. Their constant contact with cultivated antiquity contrasted with their lack of experience of the raw antiquity of the American wilderness, Nature was not an element to confront with awe in its new and primitive state, but a familiar concept drenched in poetry, footprinted by the great civilizations.
Ferns were a favorite plant of the Victorian era, so much so that the term “Pteridomania”- meaning “fern craze” - was coined. Ferns were considered the pinnacle of good taste, and nearly every upper- and middle-class home had live fern plants on display in the nineteenth century. The fern craze went beyond just the live plants, fern motifs were firmly connected with the fashion and décor of the time. A fascination with the form, color, and texture of ferns led to multiple fern motifs that were cast, carved, painted, and etched on every type of objects. The motif on this bench/chair/settee is the Boston or sword fern, and it was the most exuberantly celebrated in the fern craze. This design was one of the bestselling patterns for cast-iron furnishings in the nineteenth century, and variations of it were produced by most foundries in the United States. Naturalism, the realistic reproduction of the beauties of nature, was a popular style in the Victorian era. Though it appears as early as the 1840’s in America, naturalistic designs continued to the 1900s. This was in part due to the influence of the natural sciences, and interest in nature and gardening, which spread through the upper and middle classes in the nineteenth century. Naturalistic designs incorporated floral, foliate, fruit, vegetal, and animal forms into furnishings and decorative objects for the home and garden. Popular subjects included grapes, cornstalks, ferns, Solomon seal or laurel leaf, passion flowers, lilies of the valley, morning glories, oak leaves, acorns, vines, and roses. 500: The fern leaves are arranged with strict symmetry around a central frond in a slightly arched back supported by intertwining stems. The central frond curls slightly over the crest rail. Blackberries appear to be suspended from the crest rail in small square or diamond shaped bands running around the perimeter. Ends curve forward to form downswept arms joined to arched trestle-like supports. An openwork seat of interlacing scrolls on the bowed front of the settee connects to slightly curved vinelike legs terminating in plain rounded feet. 500: First appearing in the 1875 J. L. Mott Iron Works catalogue, by the time of the publication of the 1895 catalogue, the Fern Settee is described as having, “a wood or iron seat with wood seats painted Oak and ironwork bronzed or galvanized”. Ferns were common symbols for sincerity. 500: Henry J. Kauffman writes, “Early architects achieved extremely happy effects inspired by the luxuriant plant life of their own climate. The live oak, the rose vine, and the morning glory are only a few of the infinite number of designs.” Naturalistic depictions of “tamed nature” are precise but manipulated views of reality. The work of Thomas Cole encouraged Americans to develop a taste for imperfect nature, “All nature is not true…the imitation of art should be the imitation of the perfect as far as can be in Nature…” A.J. Davis and A.J. Downing advocated that the designer’s work was to strengthen the expression of the wild irregular aspects of American nature. Since nature is readily accessible, a taste for naturalistic design did not need to be specially cultivated as much as an appreciation for such a commonly available design motif. John Neal, one of America’s major 19th century art critics wrote, “Nature is not seen through pictures but pictures instruct on how to see Nature.” Wealthy Americans experienced the beauty of nature while on the Grand Tour of Europe. Their constant contact with cultivated antiquity contrasted with their lack of experience of the raw antiquity of the American wilderness, Nature was not an element to confront with awe in its new and primitive state, but a familiar concept drenched in poetry, footprinted by the great civilizations.
Naturalism, the realistic reproduction of the beauties of nature, was a popular style in the Victorian era. Though it appears as early as the 1840’s in America, naturalistic designs continued to the 1900s. This was in part due to the influence of the natural sciences, and interest in nature and gardening, which spread through the upper and middle classes in the nineteenth century. Naturalistic designs incorporated floral, foliate, fruit, vegetal, and animal forms into furnishings and decorative objects for the home and garden. Popular subjects included grapes, cornstalks, ferns, Solomon seal or laurel leaf, passion flowers, lilies of the valley, morning glories, oak leaves, acorns, vines, and roses. 500: The fern leaves are arranged with strict symmetry around a central frond in a slightly arched back supported by intertwining stems. The central frond curls slightly over the crest rail. Blackberries appear to be suspended from the crest rail in small square or diamond shaped bands running around the perimeter. Ends curve forward to form downswept arms joined to arched trestle-like supports. An openwork seat of interlacing scrolls on the bowed front of the settee connects to slightly curved vinelike legs terminating in plain rounded feet. 500: First appearing in the 1875 J. L. Mott Iron Works catalogue, by the time of the publication of the 1895 catalogue, the Fern Settee is described as having, “a wood or iron seat with wood seats painted Oak and ironwork bronzed or galvanized”. Ferns were common symbols for sincerity. 500: Henry J. Kauffman writes, “Early architects achieved extremely happy effects inspired by the luxuriant plant life of their own climate. The live oak, the rose vine, and the morning glory are only a few of the infinite number of designs.” Naturalistic depictions of “tamed nature” are precise but manipulated views of reality. The work of Thomas Cole encouraged Americans to develop a taste for imperfect nature, “All nature is not true…the imitation of art should be the imitation of the perfect as far as can be in Nature…” A.J. Davis and A.J. Downing advocated that the designer’s work was to strengthen the expression of the wild irregular aspects of American nature. Since nature is readily accessible, a taste for naturalistic design did not need to be specially cultivated as much as an appreciation for such a commonly available design motif. John Neal, one of America’s major 19th century art critics wrote, “Nature is not seen through pictures but pictures instruct on how to see Nature.” Wealthy Americans experienced the beauty of nature while on the Grand Tour of Europe. Their constant contact with cultivated antiquity contrasted with their lack of experience of the raw antiquity of the American wilderness, Nature was not an element to confront with awe in its new and primitive state, but a familiar concept drenched in poetry, footprinted by the great civilizations.
500: The fern leaves are arranged with strict symmetry around a central frond in a slightly arched back supported by intertwining stems. The central frond curls slightly over the crest rail. Blackberries appear to be suspended from the crest rail in small square or diamond shaped bands running around the perimeter. Ends curve forward to form downswept arms joined to arched trestle-like supports. An openwork seat of interlacing scrolls on the bowed front of the settee connects to slightly curved vinelike legs terminating in plain rounded feet. 500: First appearing in the 1875 J. L. Mott Iron Works catalogue, by the time of the publication of the 1895 catalogue, the Fern Settee is described as having, “a wood or iron seat with wood seats painted Oak and ironwork bronzed or galvanized”. Ferns were common symbols for sincerity. 500: Henry J. Kauffman writes, “Early architects achieved extremely happy effects inspired by the luxuriant plant life of their own climate. The live oak, the rose vine, and the morning glory are only a few of the infinite number of designs.” Naturalistic depictions of “tamed nature” are precise but manipulated views of reality. The work of Thomas Cole encouraged Americans to develop a taste for imperfect nature, “All nature is not true…the imitation of art should be the imitation of the perfect as far as can be in Nature…” A.J. Davis and A.J. Downing advocated that the designer’s work was to strengthen the expression of the wild irregular aspects of American nature. Since nature is readily accessible, a taste for naturalistic design did not need to be specially cultivated as much as an appreciation for such a commonly available design motif. John Neal, one of America’s major 19th century art critics wrote, “Nature is not seen through pictures but pictures instruct on how to see Nature.” Wealthy Americans experienced the beauty of nature while on the Grand Tour of Europe. Their constant contact with cultivated antiquity contrasted with their lack of experience of the raw antiquity of the American wilderness, Nature was not an element to confront with awe in its new and primitive state, but a familiar concept drenched in poetry, footprinted by the great civilizations.
500: First appearing in the 1875 J. L. Mott Iron Works catalogue, by the time of the publication of the 1895 catalogue, the Fern Settee is described as having, “a wood or iron seat with wood seats painted Oak and ironwork bronzed or galvanized”. Ferns were common symbols for sincerity. 500: Henry J. Kauffman writes, “Early architects achieved extremely happy effects inspired by the luxuriant plant life of their own climate. The live oak, the rose vine, and the morning glory are only a few of the infinite number of designs.” Naturalistic depictions of “tamed nature” are precise but manipulated views of reality. The work of Thomas Cole encouraged Americans to develop a taste for imperfect nature, “All nature is not true…the imitation of art should be the imitation of the perfect as far as can be in Nature…” A.J. Davis and A.J. Downing advocated that the designer’s work was to strengthen the expression of the wild irregular aspects of American nature. Since nature is readily accessible, a taste for naturalistic design did not need to be specially cultivated as much as an appreciation for such a commonly available design motif. John Neal, one of America’s major 19th century art critics wrote, “Nature is not seen through pictures but pictures instruct on how to see Nature.” Wealthy Americans experienced the beauty of nature while on the Grand Tour of Europe. Their constant contact with cultivated antiquity contrasted with their lack of experience of the raw antiquity of the American wilderness, Nature was not an element to confront with awe in its new and primitive state, but a familiar concept drenched in poetry, footprinted by the great civilizations.
500: Henry J. Kauffman writes, “Early architects achieved extremely happy effects inspired by the luxuriant plant life of their own climate. The live oak, the rose vine, and the morning glory are only a few of the infinite number of designs.” Naturalistic depictions of “tamed nature” are precise but manipulated views of reality. The work of Thomas Cole encouraged Americans to develop a taste for imperfect nature, “All nature is not true…the imitation of art should be the imitation of the perfect as far as can be in Nature…” A.J. Davis and A.J. Downing advocated that the designer’s work was to strengthen the expression of the wild irregular aspects of American nature. Since nature is readily accessible, a taste for naturalistic design did not need to be specially cultivated as much as an appreciation for such a commonly available design motif. John Neal, one of America’s major 19th century art critics wrote, “Nature is not seen through pictures but pictures instruct on how to see Nature.” Wealthy Americans experienced the beauty of nature while on the Grand Tour of Europe. Their constant contact with cultivated antiquity contrasted with their lack of experience of the raw antiquity of the American wilderness, Nature was not an element to confront with awe in its new and primitive state, but a familiar concept drenched in poetry, footprinted by the great civilizations.
Label Text:
The advances of the nineteenth century, made cast iron readily available, cheap, durable, and able to be formed in any desired shape beginning in the 1830s in the United States, though it was well underway sooner in Europe. Cast iron manufacture became one of the most important American industries of the mid-nineteenth century, effecting transportation, decorative arts, and technology. While the strength and durability of cast iron made it well suited to garden furnishings, which faced changing weather and heavy use, cast iron’s weak tensile strength made it fracture rather than bending or distorting.
Topic:
cast iron  Search this
fragments  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
1984.108
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq463e5746a-3e5a-41e7-be22-96694180f211
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_1984.108