In mid-nineteenth-century Sweden and Finland, numerous publications promoted the modernization of rural architecture. Many featured guidance for peasant farmers, including instructions for crafting wood carvings for the exteriors of farm buildings. In Modernizing Architecture and Ornament on Mid-Nineteenth-Century Scandinavian Farms, Anna Ripatti argues that such wood carvings and the discourse around them played an important and inherently political role in efforts to modernize not only Scandinavian farm architecture but rural Scandinavia writ large. For reformers, this ornament was a means by which to increase agricultural production, provide decent incomes to the growing numbers of landless rural laborers, and develop the image of a prosperous Scandinavia at a time of widespread rural poverty. Offering a new look at the societal meanings of a common decorative element in nineteenth-century Scandinavian architecture, this article contributes to ongoing discussions about ornament in the history of architecture.

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