Carved fern identity…

I recently received an enquiry from Max Donnelly, Curator of Nineteenth-Century Furniture at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He was asking about the possible identity of ferns which form part the carved decoration of an oak bookcase in the collection. The bookcase was made in 1862-3 and is richly carved with plants in the Ruskinian Gothic style, including ferns.


(C) V&A

I asked Max for some detailed photographs, which he kindly provided and I’ve added below.

I know what I think they are, but I wondered if others had suggestions?


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3 thoughts on “Carved fern identity…”

  1. I agree with Andrew that these all look like styalised non-native ferns. I would agree that Nephrolepis is likely, also Pellaea rotundifolia and something that looks a bit like Didymochlaena trunculata. Do you know where the cabinet was made?

    1. I found this book, whilst it does not have designs for ferns, it has designs for foliage etc.
      I think it is more than likely that wood carvers followed patterns because it would be easier to do that technically than try to copy something from Nature
      Thus the “ferns” would naturally become more styalised over time

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