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Catalog Data

Medium:
Cast iron
Dimensions:
22 1/2 × 16 × 3 in. (57.2 × 40.6 × 7.6 cm)
Style:
Rococo Revival
Type:
Fountains
Posts
Fountains-Parts
Date:
ca.1830-1920
Period:
Victorian (1837-1901)
Description:
Cast-iron post, probably for a fountain. The post has large scrolls coming off the rounded center support. The post and scrolls feature and ornate design of flower, foliate, and scroll motifs. 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. The major characteristics of the art, architecture, and decorative arts produced in nineteenth century are historicism, eclecticism, and mixing multiple styles together. Rococo Revival style was the most popular style of the Victorian era in the United States. It emerged as early as the 1830s and continued to be seen into the 1900s. This style was modeled after eighteenth-century French designs, yet the revival of the style pushed elements further. Rococo Revival objects tended to be highly ornamental, with more substantial, less delicate forms, and visually dense decoration. This style is defined by its sense of movement and its delicacy, as well as curvaceousness, asymmetry, and curvilinear forms. Rococo Revival motifs included floral imagery, abundant swags of fruit and foliage, shell-like waves, ‘S’ & ‘C’ scrolls, rocaille decoration, serpentine curves, frozen water forms, volutes, acanthus leaves, and cabriole legs.
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.
Topic:
cast iron  Search this
components  Search this
fountains  Search this
Garden ornaments and furniture  Search this
posts  Search this
water features  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
1984.132
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq403f44a4c-fbd4-4ca3-b3a4-c1f6294dcf7f
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:hac_1984.132