Bench

ca. 1870 (made)
Bench thumbnail 1
Bench thumbnail 2
+3
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ironwork, Room 114b
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Christopher Dresser (1834-1904), the renowned and prolific designer in all media, believed that it was possible to bring some of the qualitites of wrought-ironwork into the cheaper production of cast ironwork. He was designing for the Coalbrookdale firm from 1867 to the 1880s, producing a series of distinctive hallstands, umbrella stands and garden furniture.The design for this bench was styled by the firm 'Medieval' and was available in different colourways.This design was registered by the firm on 22nd April 1870 as no. 240809.

Cast iron is an alloy of iron and other elements, principally carbon. It has a crystalline structure and melts easily, which makes it particularly suitable for casting, when it is poured into moulds to form items.Casting makes it possible to produce numerous examples, and generally foundries used the same model for decades. Other foundries would also cast models from another foundry's original, which meant that the same example was produced by many different firms.Coalbrookdale was unusual in that it almost always marked its products.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Iron, cast, painted
Brief Description
Cast iron bench, painted, made by the Coalbrookdale Company, designed by Christopher Dresser. England, c. 1870.
Physical Description
Cast iron bench, now painted yellow. Cast in four separate panels, the seat frame, the back, and the two sides.The openwork design of the back is made up of an intricate symmetrical pattern of heart shapes and scrolls, decorated with five petalled flowers. The two side panels incorporate trefoil arches and leafy scrolls. All the panels are bolted together by means of three rods.Five wooden slats screwed in place into the seat frame are probably replacements of the originals.



Made by the Coalbrookdale Company iron foundry, of Shropshire, and offered in its catalogue as the 'Mediaeval' model. It was probably designed by Christopher Dresser (1834-1904), and its design is loosely inspired by medieval manuscripts of the 12th-13th century. It was available in three painted colour options, bronzed, green or chocolate.
Dimensions
  • Height: 87cm
  • Width: 192.8cm
  • Depth of seat depth: 40.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • COALBROOKDALE (The mark is stamped twice, in the middle of the front seat frame and on the back frame, top centre.)
  • Diamond shaped Registered Design. (This design is dated to 22 April 1870. This is stamped to the front leg at each side.)
  • Pattern No. 240809 (Stamped onto each of the back legs.)
Gallery Label
Bench, cast iron, England, late 19th century designed by Christopher Dresser (1834-1904). Christopher Dresser was one of the most talented and innovative designers of the 19th century. As well as designing cast iron for the Coalbrookdale Company of Shropshire he also designed silver, glass, ceramics, textiles, carpets and wall-papers. The Coalbrookdale ironworks were established in 1706 by Abraham Darby (1678-1717), the first ironmaster successfully to smelt iron with coke. This breakthrough let to the mass-production of cast iron on an industrial scale. The first iron bridge, iron rails and steam locomotives were produced there. In the 19th century the Company was a major manufacturer of domestic cast and wrought iron goods. Its catalogues offered appliances ranging from umbrella stands to fruit plates to garden furniture.(14/01/2015)
Historical context
Christopher Dresser believed that it was possible to bring some of the qualities of wrought-ironwork into the cheaper production of cast ironwork. He was designing for the Coalbrookdale firm from 1867 to the 1880s, producing a series of distinctive hallstands, umbrella stands and garden furniture.This design was registered by the firm on 22nd April 1870 as no. 240809.



Cast iron is an alloy of iron and other elements, principally carbon. It has a crystalline structure and melts easily, which makes it particularly suitable for casting, when it is poured into moulds to form items.Casting makes it possible to produce numerous examples, and generally foundries used the same model for decades. Other foundries would also cast models from another foundry's original, which meant that the same example was produced by many different firms.Coalbrookdale was unusual in that it almost always marked its products.
Production
Made and marked by the Coalbrookdale Company
Summary
Christopher Dresser (1834-1904), the renowned and prolific designer in all media, believed that it was possible to bring some of the qualitites of wrought-ironwork into the cheaper production of cast ironwork. He was designing for the Coalbrookdale firm from 1867 to the 1880s, producing a series of distinctive hallstands, umbrella stands and garden furniture.The design for this bench was styled by the firm 'Medieval' and was available in different colourways.This design was registered by the firm on 22nd April 1870 as no. 240809.



Cast iron is an alloy of iron and other elements, principally carbon. It has a crystalline structure and melts easily, which makes it particularly suitable for casting, when it is poured into moulds to form items.Casting makes it possible to produce numerous examples, and generally foundries used the same model for decades. Other foundries would also cast models from another foundry's original, which meant that the same example was produced by many different firms.Coalbrookdale was unusual in that it almost always marked its products.
Bibliographic References
  • Michael Whiteway (ed.), Christopher Dresser: A Design Revolution, London, V&A Publications, 2004. p.111. ill. ISBN. 1851774289
  • Georg Himmelheber, 'Cast-Iron Furniture and all other forms of Iron Furniture', Philip Wilson, 1996, pl. 183.
  • Charlotte Gere and Michael Whiteway, 'Nineteenth Century Design. From Pugin to Mackintosh', London, 1993
Collection
Accession Number
M.938-1983

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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