Throughout history how we dress, where we live and the homes we live in, flect the attitude of that period. So it should come as no surprise that iron beds were also a direct reflection of the times they were designed and built in.
The rigid conservatism of Victorian England fostered beds that spoke volumes of the represive society surrounding that period. When looking at a bed from that period that was produced in England, it became obvious from the design that it was not a joyful time. There were no curves or free flowing forms. Straight vertical and horizontal designs were the norm. Yet at the same time in history, the beds that were being made in tis country, did reflect the optimism and freedom people that had immegrated to America were feeling. Curves, scrolls and flowing forms were quite common place. It seemed each small independently owned foundry, that produced antique iron beds, tried to out design their competitors……the more curves and scrolls, the better.
The Art Nouveau period was most popular during 1890–1910. It was inspired by natural forms with a feminine curves and structures, not only in flowers and plants but also in curved lines. Architects tried to harmonize it with the nature. Although Art Nouveau was most popular in Europe, its influence was global. Here in the states we had numerous foundries that offered design and styles that you would think cam directly from the furniture shops of Paris. Art Nouveau was considered an important transition between the historicism of Neoclassicism and modernism. Art Nouveau acquired distinctly localised tendencies as its geographic spread increased, some general characteristics are indicative of the form. A description published in Pan magazine of Hermann Obrist’s wall hanging Cyclamen (1894) described it as “sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip”, which became well known during the early spread of Art Nouveau.
As we approached the year 1900, in the history of American architecture and the arts, the American Renaissance was the period ca 1876–1917 characterized by renewed national self-confidence and a feeling that the United States was the heir to Greek democracy, Roman law, and Renaissance humanism. The American preoccupation with national identity or nationalism ,in this period ,was expressed by modernism and technology. It expressed its self-confidence in new technologies, such as the wire cables of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Americans felt that their civilization was uniquely the modern heir, and that it had come of age. Politically and economically, this era coincides with the Gilded Age and the New Imperialism…….and iron beds made at this time reflected all of the confident modernist stentiments our country was experiencing. We had grown more and more confident in our place in the world and no longer felt it necessary to overtly distance ourselves from other schools of design. We were forging a new path in the world, economically, socially, spiritually and last but not least in design. It wouldn’t be long before those scrolled iron beds of the Victorian period , wich are so collectible today, would be replaced with modern headboards made of new materials like “plastic”, and a number of new materials .
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