Majolica Passion Flower Garden Stool
Period: England c. 1870
A number of factors contributed to the proliferation of glasshouses during Victorian times. The industrial revolution brought mechanization to the production of cast iron, bricks and paints as well as the transportation infrastructure to ship these products required for glasshouse construction. Additionally, the repeal of the glass tax in 1845 reduced the enormous cost of such structures and made them affordable for an aspiring middle class family. Glasshouses were used for the cultivation of flowers and other exotic plants and effectively extended the growing season of ordinary foods for household consumption. Majolica garden seats provided convenient seating while tending to the plants or merely admiring the surroundings.
All of the major British majolica manufacturers produced garden seats. Among the most common are aesthetic designs of cylindrical or hexagonal shape and decorated with flowers, exotic birds or geometric designs. Both Minton and Wedgwood had a penchant for designs with oriental themes. In several examples, the upper surface is molded to resemble a tufted cushion with corner tassels. Among the rarest majolica garden seats are those in which the seating surface is supported by a monkey, Blackamoor or Egyptian figure. Often, the upper surface of a garden seat is pierced either to prevent the collection of water or serve as a handhold.