Rogers in the Home

For more information, see David Jaffee, “Rogers Takes His Place in the Parlor,” in John Rogers: American Stories

Rogers sold approximately eighty thousand small plaster sculptures featuring eighty to ninety different groups, all affordable at the modest average cost of fourteen dollars. He fed a growing middle-class appetite for tasteful household goods, primarily situated in that centerpiece of the Victorian home, the parlor.

The mid-nineteenth-century home stood as a refuge from the dizzying pace of change in American society, and women were charged with the central responsibility for child rearing and culture, including decoration. As Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote in 1869, home decoration “contributes much to the education of the entire household in refinement, intellectual development, and moral sensibility.”

Creating a proper parlor was possible for anyone willing and able to purchase the necessary goods. Rogers Groups symbolized culture and domesticity, and became essential elements for a proper domestic interior. They often appeared on tables, shelves, and mantels, and in later years Rogers also sold pedestals and shelves specially made for his groups.

Whittaker, The Lesson and Rogers, The School Examination (Bronson Collection)

John Barnard Whittaker (18361926). The Lesson, or the John Ewart Tousey Family at Home in Brooklyn, New York, 1871-72. Oil on canvas. Location unknown, from Elisabeth Donaghy Garrett, At Home: The American Family, 1750-1870 (New York: Harry N Abrams, 1990), 59

The School Examination, 1867. Painted plaster, 20 1/4 x 13 x 8 1/4 in. (51.4 x 33 x 21 cm). The Bronson Collection

U.W. Grant Parlor and Rogers, The Council of War (Bronson Collection)

Ulysses S. Grant Parlor, Grant Home, Galena, Ill., ca. 1868. Photograph. Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

The Council of War, 1868. Bronze, 24 x 14 x 10 1/2 in. (61 x 35.6 x 26.7 cm). The New-York Historical Society, Gift of Miss Katherine Rebecca Rogers, 1936.657

Oertel, Visiting Grandma and Rogers, The Favored Scholar (Bronson Collection)

Johannes Adam Simon Oertel (1823–1909). Visiting Grandma, 1865. Oil on canvas, 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm). The New-York Historical Society, Purchase, The Watson Fund, 1970.75

The Favored Scholar, 1873. Painted plaster, 20 3/4 x 16 x 11 3/4 in. (52.7 x 40.6 x 29.8 cm). The Bronson Collection

Lt. Colonel Custer at Fort Abraham Lincoln and Rogers, Mail Day (1932.97)

Lt. Colonel Custer at Fort Abraham Lincoln, ca. 1873. Photograph. Little Big Horn National Historic Park

Mail Day, 1863. Painted plaster, 15 1/2 x 8 3/4 x 8 1/2 in. (39.4 x 22.2 x 21.6 cm). The New-York Historical Society, Purchase, 1932.97

 

Pedestal for Rogers sculpture, ca. 1885. Mahogany. 37 x 21 x 15 in. (94 x 53.3 x 38.1 cm). Gift of the First Presbyterian Church, 1958.13b Pedestal for Rogers sculpture, ca. 1885. Mahogany. 41 x 20 x 20 in. (104.1 x 50.8 x 50.8 cm). Gift of the First Presbyterian Church, 1958.14b


Groups of Statuary by John Rogers (New York: 1889), 24, back cover. Collection of Mel Zapata

 

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