Georg Jensen Silver
Denmark greatest Silversmith for 150 years
Georg Jensen Blossom 5-Piece Tea Set
Georg Jansen A/S was founded by Georg Arthur Jensen. He was born on 31 August 1866 in Raadvad, Denmark. He passed away on 2 October 1935 in Copenhagen
Georg Jensen was once described by The New York Herald Tribune as “the greatest silversmith.” Nevertheless, many people were not aware that Georg Arthur Jensen started his early days making clay sculptures rather than as a silversmith.
Georg Jensen grew up in the rural town of Raadvad just to the north of Copenhagen and was the son of a knife grinder working at a cultery factory .
Georg Jensen portrait
In the year 1880, young Georg Jensen at the age of 14 years old began his training in goldsmithing in Copenhagen. He completed his 4 years apprenticeship and the age of 18 years old, he was already equipped and trained to be a silversmith.
However, although the young Georg Jensen receiving his early training in gold and silversmithing, he chose to pursue his dream as a sculptor. In the year 1887, he applied and attended courses at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Whilst still a student at The Royal Academy of Art, Jensen married Marie Christiane Antonette Wulff. Sadly, she died after only 6 years of marriage, leaving Jensen, at a young age, a widower with two young sons to support. He graduated in the year 1892 after 5 years of education at the art academy.
After graduation from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, he participated in some exhibitions and his works were chosen for the annual spring exhibition at Charlottenborg Palace in Copenhagen Although his clay sculptor were well received, Jensen had trouble making a decent earning and living as a sculptor.
Subsequently he had chosen to move into applied arts category. He began as a modeler for various ceramic firms, which made use of his knowledge for modeling. He started at Bing & Grøndahl porcelain factory
In 1898, he set up a small pottery workshop with his friends. Vases and bowls made by them were illustrated in the press. This motivated them as they are only a small pottery workshop and during that time, they are much more bigger and more established porcelain makers. The most success pottery piece is a heavy, un-glazed terra-cotta jug called "The Maid on The Jar". The piece was later acquired by the Danish Museum of Decorative Art in the year 1899 and exhibited at Charlottenborg and subsequently at the Exposition Universelle in Paris.
The beginning of Silversmith
In 1901, the ceramic business venture failed and he abandoned ceramics and began again as a silversmith and designer. He followed under his master, Mogens Ballin.
36 Bredgade 1904
In 1904, Jensen started his own silversmithing workshop at 36 Bredgade in Copenhagen. His staff of 2 included a helper and an apprentice. Jensen produced jewelry and later hollow ware and flatware, which were displayed in a case mounted on a wall outside the shop during the day, and taken in at the close of business. The sign outside also read, “Georg Jensen Sculptor, Silversmith,” an indication that Jensen still regarded himself as a sculptor first and foremost. But now with a new medium: sculpting with Silver metal.
In 1915 the Jensen company exhibited at the San Francisco "Panama-Pacific International Exposition", where they gained several gold medals. At this exhibition, William Randolph Hearst, the Newspaper Magnate was so impressed with Jensen’s exhibit that he purchased almost the entire stock on display. This is particularly worth mentioning and significant as it bring the likes and attention of a an American buyer to Jensen's work.
The store interior, 36 Bredgade 1918
In the year 1918, the company was appointed purveyor to the Royal Swedish Court. By the 1920s, Jensen already employed as many as 300 craftsmen with stores spanning in Europe and New York
Characteristics of his works
The first of Jensen’s creative partners was Johan Rohde, and he brought a new and exciting minimalist touch to the brand’s more traditional ornate art nouveau style. Later collaborations included dazzling art deco designs from Harold Nielsen and a touch of Swedish royalty with Count Sigvard Bernadotte’s lined silver pattern.
Georg Jensen - Arts and Crafts
Jensen’s fascination with nature most likely stemmed from the rural surroundings of his childhood home in Raadvad, Denmark. Georg Jensen works are characterized by organic, nature-inspired motifs and stylized, flowing forms, Arts and Crafts was a response to the Industrial Revolution, which inundated the market with cheap, utilitarian products that lacked the quality, craftsmanship, and artistry of handcrafted works. Many artists in the movement felt responsible for bringing affordable elements of beauty to everyday life, and Jensen was no different in this regard. His desire to marry style and utility can be seen in his earliest designs (like the Blossom pattern), in which he combine natural design elements like flowers, fruit, leaves, and birds to functional, everyday items.
Today, Georg Jensen, Inc. is owned by Royal Copenhagen, and continues its legacy of excellence. By the time of Jensen’s death in 1935, he was already regarded as the “father of Scandinavian Silver.” On the occasion of his 60th birthday, Jensen remarked, “Silver is the best material we have. The character of silver is satisfactorily obstinate, it has to be conquered – and then it has the wonderful moonlight luster. [It] can seem like twilight, or, when it dews over, like ground mist rising.”
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