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Catalog Data

Wire, paint
39 × 12 1/4 in. (99.1 × 31.1 cm)
Plant stands
ca. 1900
Art Nouveau (1890-1910)
Plant stand for potted plant or flower arrangement made of bent wires painted white. The stand is formed by four vertical iron rods with scroll feet. It is connected at three different levels to iron rings. Each ring is of a different circumference ascending from a wide base, tapering to the smallest point at the top third and flaring back out slightly at the top. Four applied iron wire "s"-shaped arabesques on lower third of stand creating a more decorative display piece. Different liners or flower arrangements could be placed inside, which allowed the owner to change out the potted plant based on the growing seasons or the arrangement when it was no longer fresh. These stands have also been called florist’s stands, and they could be rented for special occasions. The French excelled at making these delicate wrought-iron and wire garden furnishings, which were popular in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. These pieces were appealing for both the garden and terrace because they were less obtrusive than other types of garden furniture due to the near invisibility of the wire. The playful scrolls of this design are in the manner of the late-Regency style wrought-iron furnishings of the 1820s and 1830s. The most popular style of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century leading up to the Victorian era (1837-1901) was Neoclassicism. In America it has been called the American Empire style, Greek Revival, or Grecian style and was called Regency or Empire style in Europe. Neoclassicism was seen in painting, sculpture, furnishings, architecture, fashion, and even politics. This revival of classical taste was encouraged by the increased interest in classical, ancient, and antique forms inspired by recent excavations of in Italy, Greece, and Egypt. Neoclassicism pulled motifs, ornamentation, and forms from antiquity, as well as the Renaissance interpretation of the classical world. Elements of neoclassical design included fretwork, columns, palmettes, pilasters, acanthus leaves, tulips and lotus motifs, grotesque masks, processional reliefs, mythical creatures, laurel garlands, fruit swags, scrolls, tassels, fringe, passementerie, frieze decoration, lyres, and vases; as well as accurate depictions of flora, fauna, birds, and insects; and repeating patterns such as the Greek key and egg-and-dart. A characteristic of Neoclassical designs is strict symmetry of all the elements.
Label Text:
The Victorian love of nature and display were combined with the plant stand. Both decorative and storage space, plant stands displayed botanical specimens both in and out of doors in the nineteenth century. They came in a variety of sizes and shapes that might include multiple tiers, elaborate structures, decorative features, or separate surfaces for each plant or flower. Plants stands were often placed on porches and verandahs, where they provided transition between house and garden. These stands were also found throughout the home, bringing nature indoors and adding color and scents to the room. They might be the focal point, placed in corners, or other areas in need of visual interest. Fragrant varieties of flowers and potted plants, such as palms, were popular choices for plant stands in the nineteenth century. Flowers and greenery were often mixed together on its shelves, either grown in pots on saucers or displayed in decorative vases. The stands and their plants could be rented from the florist or nursery for special occasions. In addition to their decorative appeal, they were also an important tool for the gardener. Plant stands served as home for the plants more susceptible to frost and weather that were brought in to a winter garden in the home, conservatory, greenhouse, or other outbuildings.
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Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens