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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 opalescent glass.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Ian and Rita Smythe

  • Museum number:


  • 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

Twin lamp electric wall light, originally lit by gas and later converted to electricity, brass, copper and opalescent glass. In two parts, the lower fitting (M.26:1-2018) fixed to the wall by an oval mahogany plate from which emerge two brass `U' shaped tubes, a copper embossed leaf and a spiral brass strip, the tubular sections supporting two glass, opalescent, veined shades of flower pot form and held in place by spring clips. The upper fitting (M.26:2-2018), placed directly above the lower is attached to the wall by a circular brass mount from which two curved branches of strip brass terminating in spiral coils support two conical opalescent shades with wavy rims. These originally served to capture the residue and water vapour created by the burning gas mantles.

Place of Origin

London (designed and made)
Hammersmith (made)


1880-1915 (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

Copper, brass and opalescent glass.


Depth: 31.5 cm, Width: 32 cm Lower fitting and without shades, Depth: 36.5 cm, Width: 21.5 cm Upper fitting and without shades., Height: 19.5 cm, Diameter: 16.5 cm Lower glass shades maximum, Height: 20 cm, Diameter: 16.7 cm Upper glass shades maximum

Descriptive line

Wall light, twin lamp, copper, brass and opalescent 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.


Copper; Brass; Glass


Forging (metal forming); Embossing; Twisting; Glass-blowing

Subjects depicted

Leaves; Embossing


Architectural fittings; Lighting; Metalwork

Production Type

Mass produced


Metalwork Collection

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