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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.25-2018

  • 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

Three light electrolier of brass, copper and opalescent glass. The central shaft, a copper tube, terminating in a moulded tip and fixed to the ceiling by a brass rose with stepped mouldings. A stepped, moulded circular knop is fixed half-way down the shaft. The lower part of the shaft is embellished with three flat strips of brass attached by screws to the main shaft which curve outwards, returning inwards and ending is a wavy line. From the base, three curved brass branches sprout upwards terminating with moulded and leaf decoration, a spiral stamen and a curved hook. The three curved branches of hollow brass tubing rise from the base hold the lamps and are supported by flat strip, curved scrollwork. The junction with the shaft is concealed by brass leaf decoration. The glass shades are held in trumpet shaped holders and are retained by screws in a deep flange. The glass shades, of opalescent, veined glass in a teardrop shape with a bulbous knop and concave rims.

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

Height: 100 cm, Width: 50 cm without glass shades, Height: 13.5 cm glass shade, Diameter: 11.5 cm glass shade

Descriptive line

Electrolier, three light, 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

Forging; Stamping; Glass blowing

Subjects depicted

Leaves; Scroll-work; Moulding

Categories

Architectural fittings; Lighting; Metalwork

Production Type

Mass produced

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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