Utility and Beauty: Robert Wellford and Composition Ornament in America

by Mark Reinberger

Studies in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Art and Culture series

Hardback • 2003 • $74.00
ISBN: 978-0874137606

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This is the first study of this important art form in the American Federal period. Made of a synthetic paste and forced into finely carved moulds, composition ornament graced mantels and other woodwork in American buildings between 1790 and 1820. Robert Wellford of Philadelphia was the foremost American practitioner of the art. He was also a successful entrepreneur, developing a national business with markets from New Jersey to South Carolina. Wellford’s ornament encompassed an astonishing array of ornamental, mythological, and nationalistic motifs, making it one of the most important reservoirs of neoclassical imagery in early republican America. The book presents Wellford’s life, craft, business, and ornament, as well as the work of his competitors, from New England to the deep south. Also included is a catalog of examples of known Wellford work. There are 117 illustrations.

About the Author
Mark Reinberger is an Associate Professor of Environmental Design at the University of Georgia.