Antiques Column: Ideas and principles put firm on path to success

Georg Jensen silverware
Georg Jensen silverware

Georg Jensen (1866 – 1935) was a silversmith. He opened his own studio in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1904 and is widely considered one of the most important silversmiths of the 20th century.

Born in 1866, he began life as a sculptor before establishing his own company producing silverware. His small workshop found fame after Jenson exhibited his work at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Copenhagen in late 1904. He specialised in jewellery, flatware and hollowware, concentrating on simple and elegant designs.

Jensen’s silverware was governed by the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement; preferring handmade items using traditional methods over mass produced inferior products with a perfect balance between functionality and beauty. His designs, and those of the designers he employed to work alongside him such as Henning Koppel, Johan Rohde and Sigvard Bernodotte, were in the Art Nouveau style, with inspiration from the natural world particularly flowers and grapes.

They used hand-hammered techniques to finish, drawing attention to the quality of the silver with minimal decoration and simple, clean and often rounded shapes.

Many different hallmarks are found on Jensen wares as they changed over time, which makes pieces much easier to date. Many designers also had their own hallmarks alongside the company’s.

One of Jensen’s greatest assets was the quality of his designers. He hired designers with values and principles similar to himself and nurtured their talents. The Georg Jensen Company is still producing today; a hugely successful venture still working by the same principles and ideas of Jensen himself.