Press Release

The Style of Display: Victorian Pedestals


Charles Schuler
Director of Marketing & Communications
San Francisco International Airport

The Style of Display: Victorian Pedestals
New exhibition presents a variety of stunning pedestals produced in the United States from the 1860s to the 1890s.

SAN FRANCISCO - May 16, 2019 - Victorian pedestals, meant to showcase sculpture, are fascinating decorative art objects to behold. The most ornate pedestals were made in the United States during the Gilded Age—a time following the Civil War until the turn of the twentieth century, when the country experienced rapid economic growth. From the mid-1860s through the 1880s, in particular, collecting and displaying sculpture led to an increased demand for pedestals. Wealthy Victorians preferred elaborate furniture on a grand scale and richly ornamented rooms. Several pedestals displaying artistic objects might adorn the drawing room or parlor. Victorians selected pedestals that suited their tastes and living interiors. Pedestals, as a result, offer an intriguing look at the design styles popular at the time.

Renaissance and Egyptian Revival styles as well as Neo-Grec flourished in the last few decades of the nineteenth century. Decorative motifs took form in high-relief carving; colorfully painted accents, ebonizing, gilding, flame veneers, marquetry, uniquely patterned burl woods, line-incised decoration, and marble also adorned pedestals.

The Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia debuted Modern Gothic furnishings by the American firm Kimbel and Cabus and Aesthetic Movement or “art furniture.” Proponents of the Aesthetic Movement rejected popular historical revival styles, which they considered excessive. The movement promoted art for art’s sake and found inspiration in Japanese design and nature. Pedestals, in turn, reflected these novel fashions. The pedestal stands in isolation in a room, its only purpose to elevate sculpture. But during the Victorian era, pedestals dazzled the eye as much as the items placed upon them.

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The Style of Display: Victorian Pedestals is located pre-security in the International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby, San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is on view to all Airport visitors from May 18, 2019, to January 12, 2020. There is no charge to view the exhibition.

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