Oil Table Lamp thumbnail 1
Oil Table Lamp thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery

Oil Table Lamp

ca. 1895 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
The brass and copper lamps designed and produced by W.A.S. Benson at around the turn of the 20th century are among his best known pieces. The German architect and critic Hermann Muthesius suggested in Das englische Haus ('The English House') of 1904-1905 that Benson was the first to illuminate dining tables with light reflected from a shiny metal surface, while keeping the actual source of illumination hidden.

People
Benson was educated at Eton and Oxford and trained in the office of the architect Basil Champneys. Through his friendship with the painter Edward Burne-Jones, he was introduced to William Morris who encouraged him to set up his own metal workshop in 1880. In 1882, he established a foundry in Hammersmith and in about 1887, a shop in Bond Street, London. Benson was a founder member of the Art Workers' Guild, established in 1884 to promote links between architecture and design. Following the death of William Morris in 1896, he became managing director of Morris & Co. (for whom he also designed furniture and wallpaper). Benson's own firm prospered, but during the First World War the factory was entirely converted to producing material for the war effort. By the cessation of hostilities in 1918, Benson had become discouraged and he closed the factory upon his retirement in 1920.

Design & Designing
Benson was admired for the simplicity and clarity of his designs, which made little use of extraneous ornament. He also designed for machine production, openly admiring and exploiting its potential.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Lamp
  • Shade
  • Chimney
Materials and Techniques
Brasswork and copper
Brief Description
Table lamp
Physical Description
The lamp consists of a clearly classical base and an extraordinarily inventive shade.
Dimensions
  • With glass chimney height: 68.5cm
  • Maximum width: 40cm
  • Base depth: 17.9cm
Gallery Label
British Galleries: W.A.S. Benson first took up metalwork in 1880 when he set up a workshop in order to produce a range of well-made, simple, copper and brass objects for the home. He was a leading Arts and Crafts figure and helped found the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888, contributing an essay on metalwork for the first catalogue.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Miss H. M. Beale
Object history
Designed by William Arthur Smith Benson (born in London, 1854, died in Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, 1924) and made by his factory in Chiswick, London
Summary
Object Type
The brass and copper lamps designed and produced by W.A.S. Benson at around the turn of the 20th century are among his best known pieces. The German architect and critic Hermann Muthesius suggested in Das englische Haus ('The English House') of 1904-1905 that Benson was the first to illuminate dining tables with light reflected from a shiny metal surface, while keeping the actual source of illumination hidden.

People
Benson was educated at Eton and Oxford and trained in the office of the architect Basil Champneys. Through his friendship with the painter Edward Burne-Jones, he was introduced to William Morris who encouraged him to set up his own metal workshop in 1880. In 1882, he established a foundry in Hammersmith and in about 1887, a shop in Bond Street, London. Benson was a founder member of the Art Workers' Guild, established in 1884 to promote links between architecture and design. Following the death of William Morris in 1896, he became managing director of Morris & Co. (for whom he also designed furniture and wallpaper). Benson's own firm prospered, but during the First World War the factory was entirely converted to producing material for the war effort. By the cessation of hostilities in 1918, Benson had become discouraged and he closed the factory upon his retirement in 1920.

Design & Designing
Benson was admired for the simplicity and clarity of his designs, which made little use of extraneous ornament. He also designed for machine production, openly admiring and exploiting its potential.
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.21:1 to 3-1961

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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