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Cast iron, paint
Decorative arts
Victorian (1837-1901)
Pair cast-iron garden statues. Two cockatoos painted yellow with dark eyes, beaks, crest feathers, and feet. The birds are depicted perched on a section of branch on a rocky mound. Small animal figures were very popular garden ornaments in the nineteenth century. 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.
Label Text:
The placement of statues in the garden dates to ancient times, but placing sculpture outdoors gained momentum in the Renaissance in Italy. This was due to increased interest in classical art and design. The avid collection of antiquities soon filled the houses with sculptures and by necessity they began to spill out into gardens. Since the Renaissance both antique and contemporary statues and sculptures have been an admired form of garden ornament. The use of statues in the garden has a much shorter history in America, and in the Victorian era, it reached its height. Sculptures could be made from a variety of materials and could be free standing or as part of fountain or birdbath. In large gardens, life-sized statues elevated on plinths brought grandeur to designs, while smaller scale designs were available for more moderate spaces.
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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