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      fireplace mantel & screen

Aesthetic Style Fireplace Mantel and Fire Screen

  Frank Richards, the maker of this mantel, may have used a pattern book for his floral motifs on the mantel and screen. He chose the Aesthetic style for his mantel.

Download a .pdf for a printout identifying design elements (html version) of this piece.

Aesthetics is the study of beauty and art. Aesthetic style started in England with a group of artists and writers who reacted against the large, fancy, overly decorated objects being made in the mid-nineteenth century. Artists started workshops where craftspeople could make pottery, furniture, textiles, and other products by hand. 

Design Inspiration
For design inspiration they turned to the Medieval Age. They chose motifs of natural forms like plants to decorate their products. Many of the flowers were also symbols from the stories of the Middle Ages, Greek or Roman times, or from the Bible. Aesthetic furniture had relief carving, usually of flowers, leaves, and vines. Compared to the Revival styles, the Aesthetic style was plain. 

One writer of the time, Lewis F. Day, was a great supporter of exploring new kinds of plant ornament. He wrote the textbooks The Anatomy of Pattern and The Planning of Ornament (1887), and Nature in Ornament (1896), which explained how to draw plant ornament from historical sources. These and other books inspired pattern books for woodcarvers, who traced or enlarged the line drawings by hand, drew them on sections of furniture, and carved them by hand. 

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