George Washington Dumb Stove

Alonzo Blanchard (1799-1864), Albany, NY
Date: c. 1843
Maker: Alonzo Blanchard (1799-1864), Albany, NY
Dimensions: 48 3/4 H x 15 W x 9 D
Materials: Cast iron

Cast on lower back: Design Patented / Aug. 26, 1843

Credit: Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase, Rockwell Fund
Accession Number: 1992.7

During the nineteenth century, Albany and Troy manufacturers were among the largest producers of cast-iron stoves in the world. The Hudson River allowed Troy and Albany to bring raw materials to the foundries and finished stoves to worldwide markets. This cast-iron figure of George Washington is one of the most striking of all nineteenth-century "dumb stoves." These usually did not have a firebox, but were connected by a stovepipe to a functioning stove on a floor below. That way two rooms could be heated by one stove. The designer, Alonzo Blanchard, chose Washington because the country was preoccupied with the nation's first president as a symbol of unity. In this guise, Washington is shown wearing a Roman toga over eighteenth-century clothing. Blanchard probably based his design on the 1826 marble statue of Washington by Francis Chantrey, installed in the Massachusetts State House.