National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Andiron Andiron
Rendered by Isidore Danziger (artist), c. 1942
watercolor and graphite on paperboard
overall: 41.1 x 30.3 cm (16 3/16 x 11 15/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 17" high; 9 3/4" wide; thickness of shaft: 1 7/8"
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Metalwork from the Index of American Design
Object 3 of 17

Andirons came into use when formal fireplaces required decorative accessories, particularly in drawing rooms and in taverns. The earliest andirons were forged of wrought iron and decorated by simple scrolls or ogee curves, but by the mid-eighteenth century foundries were producing more elaborate cast iron varieties. The subject of this andiron, representing a "Marching Hessian," became popular in the 1780s after the American Revolution. Playing on patriotic sympathies, this andiron represented the Hessian soldier who fought for the British as a mercenary. Human figures on andirons were uncommon, and it is said that putting this figure to such menial use symbolized American resentment of the mercenary soldier. This andiron, cast from a sand mold, is in high relief. Polychrome paints were used to set off the details of the uniform and the facial expression.

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