What are the Different Types of Wrought Iron Artwork?

Gregory Hanson

Much wrought iron artwork reflects the original uses of the material and takes the form of practical objects that have then been made beautiful and decorative, while other varieties are more purely creative sculptures. Fences, gates, railings, and window bars may all still serve practical functions, but when made of wrought iron, they are often either made more elaborate or ornamented in order to transform them from prosaic objects into works of wrought iron artwork. Other items that once served such a practical function, such as candelabras, have now mostly lost that function and serve mostly as art objects. Sculptors also work with wrought iron as a medium in its own right, creating statues and other more abstract creations with no connection to the practical or mundane.

Wrought iron gates can be both practical and decorative.
Wrought iron gates can be both practical and decorative.

Wrought iron was used widely during the Victorian era, largely because it was both durable and fairly inexpensive. Ironwork of that era often reflects a general practice of making the practical ornate and decorative. This practice has survived to the modern day, and many practical objects made of wrought iron are ornamented in an older style, with twists and curls of metal or added decorative elements. Even simple wrought iron has an artistic value today, as it has become both more expensive and less common, and, therefore, more of a status symbol. This type of artwork is found in many places, including fences and gates, but also table legs, fireplace sets, and many other places.

Oil lamps are a popular type of vintage wrought iron decor.
Oil lamps are a popular type of vintage wrought iron decor.

Although modern homes rarely actually rely on candles or oil lamps for illumination, the fixtures that once contained these practical devices have endured as decorative wrought iron artwork. Metal accents in the form of chandeliers or wall sconces are commonly made of wrought iron. This sort of wrought iron artwork often includes additional decorative work to further enhance its appeal. Other once-ordinary objects of wrought iron, from kitchen necessities to towel rods, now serve a primarily decorative and artistic purpose.

Artists also produce wrought iron artwork that has no practical function. The aura of age that wrought iron carries with it makes it a popular material for sculptures depicting an idealized vision of the past, and tiny wrought iron carriages and farming scenes are quite common. Artists with a more modern style also produce wrought iron artwork and are often drawn to its stark matte black color, either as a statement in and of itself or because its simplicity allows them to convey some other message or impression without distraction.

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