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Light fitting

  • Place of origin:

    London (designed and made)
    Hammersmith (made)

  • Date:

    1880-1915 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    W.A.S.Benson, Esq., (designer)
    W. A. S. Benson & Co. Ltd. (maker)
    James Powell & Sons (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper, brass and glass.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Ian and Rita Smythe

  • Museum number:

    M.24-2018

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

William Arthur Smith Benson (1858-1924) was born in London and educated at Winchester and Oxford. Benson was first articled to the office of Basil Champneys until 1880. Through his friendship with the Pre-Raphaelite artist, Edward Burne-Jones, he met William Morris, whom he had long admired and was inspired to set up a workshop for the manufacture of metalwork in 1880. He later opened a well equipped factory in Hammersmith and in about 1887, a shop in Bond Street.; the firm survived until he retired in 1920. Benson was an active member of the Art Worker’s Guild from 1884, a leader in the formation of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society from 1886 and wrote an essay on metalwork in the catalogue of the first exhibition in 1888. On Morris’s death in 1896Benson became chairman of Morris & Co. for whom he designed furniture and wallpapers. In 1914, he was a founder member of the Design and Industries Association.

Benson’s firm produced some simple furniture but his great output consisted in well designed utilitarian metalwork, usually in copper and brass but sometimes in electroplate, including lamps, teapots, food warmers etc. Benson had always been interested in engineering and, unlike so many of his Arts & Crafts contemporaries, had little compunction about the use of the machine.

Physical description

Two light electric light bracket of brass and copper with opalescent glass shades. The star shaped back plate of copper, leaf pattern with moulded `veins'; thew centre a brass annular ring from which emerges at right angles a copper leaf with a moulded stalk and two brass branches with scrolled ends, at 45° to the wall at right angles to each other. A flex of copper wire, cotton wrapped, is threaded through the scrolled end of each branch from which hang the two lamps. The electrical sockets are clamped to the end of each flex and a support a leaf dome attached to a brass ring which holds each glass shade. The shades, of opalescent glass with a swirling pattern etched into the surface, of teardrop form, terminating in a bulbous, conical tip.

Place of Origin

London (designed and made)
Hammersmith (made)

Date

1880-1915 (made)

Artist/maker

W.A.S.Benson, Esq., (designer)
W. A. S. Benson & Co. Ltd. (maker)
James Powell & Sons (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Copper, brass and glass.

Dimensions

Length: 32 cm, Height: 17.5 cm glass shade, Diameter: 14 cm glass shade

Descriptive line

Wall light, two lamp fitting, copper, brass and glass, London, 1880-1915, made by W.A.S. Benson & Co.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Ian Hammerton, ed. W.A.S. Benson, Arts and Crafts Luminary and Pioneer of Modern Design, Woodbridge, Antique Collectors' Club, 2005. ISBN: 1851494766
Shirley Bury, A Craftsman who used the Machine, Country Life, CXXXVII, no.3550, March 18, 1965. pp.624-7.

Materials

Copper; Brass; Glass

Techniques

Stamping; Forging; Glass-blowing

Subjects depicted

Leaves

Categories

Architectural fittings; Lighting; Metalwork

Production Type

Mass produced

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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