Morning Session at 10.00am
Furniture, Sculpture and Works of Art
PROPERTY FROM A WEST COAST COLLECTION OF CAST-IRON GARDEN STATUARY AND ORNAMENT
CAST-IRON IN THE 19TH CENTURY
Cast-iron had been in production during the 18th century but its inferior status to the more fashionable and delicate wrought-iron had generally confined its use to architectural work. By the early 19th century, however, rapid developments of the Industrial Revolution combined with the simultaneous burgeoning of a new middle class provided the impetus for a dramatic expansion in its application and in a short space of time a proliferation of iron foundries across Europe and America thrived on the production of everything from inkstands to railway stations. The use of cast-iron for garden ornament became particularly widespread at this time, as the possibilities for its mass-production at a fraction of the cost of bronze made it the material of choice for outdoor statuary, figural lighting, fountains and vases.
Nowhere was the popularity and use of cast-iron ornament greater than in France, where by the second half of the 19th century two foundries in particular, which feature prominently in the following collection, had come to dominate production both for the home market and for export. The more important of these was the officially named Société Anonyme des Hauts-Fourneaux et Fonderies du Val-D'Osne, Anciennes maisons J. P. V. André et J. J. Ducel et Fils. Commonly known after 1870 as simply Val D'Osne, the company was originally founded in 1835 and developed rapidly, absorbing smaller foundries in the Haute-Marne area east of Paris. Smaller than Val D'Osne but nevertheless a major player in the manufacture of cast-iron was the firm of A. A. Durenne, established in 1847 at Sommevoire. Both Val D'Osne and Durenne were frequently awarded medals for their work at the many international exhibitions of the latter half of the 19th century. Each also published large catalogues illustrating and listing its entire inventory of models, from which casts of varying size and finish could be ordered.