A Rare Pair of c.1890 Faux Bois Trunk Garden Stools

Period: Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1890-1900
Height: 18 inches
Top Diameter: 14.5 inches
(all at maximum)

The good near pair of artisan made late nineteenth century hollow composition stone carved garden stools naturalistically modelled as faux bois (false wood) tree trunks, having waisted bodies and sponge dapple polychrome painted tops with inset handles.

The condition of the stools is relatively good considering their brittle nature. One of the stools has a hairline crack through it but it remains very sound. There are chips to each but most are very small barring one that is around an inch wide. Each stool remains very solid and un-restored.

Faux bois (from the French for false wood) refers to the artistic imitation of wood or wood grains in various media. The craft has roots in the Renaissance with trompe-l'œil. It was probably first crafted with concrete using an iron armature by garden craftsmen in France called "rocailleurs" using common iron materials: rods, barrel bands, and chicken wire. Early examples of the craft survive at Parc des Buttes-Chaumont opened for an exposition in Paris in 1867. In 1873, the inventor of ferrocement, Joseph Monier expanded his patents to include bridges. He designed the first bridge of reinforced concrete, crossing the moat at the Chateau Chazelet, in France and it was sculpted to resemble timbers and logs. Most popular in the late 19th century through the 1940s, ferrocement faux bois has largely disappeared with the passing of those most expert in its practice. What few objects remain from that peak period (mostly in the form of garden art, such as planters, birdbaths or as we see here, stools) are now highly prized by collectors.

Rare high Victorian whimsy for the garden or indoor object d’art.