Light Fitting

ca.1902 (designed and made)
Light Fitting thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

William Arthur Smith Benson (1854-1924) became articled to the architect Basil Champneys in 1878 during his last year at Oxford and remained with him until 1880. During this time he shared lodgings with the painter and etcher, Heywood Sumner, who introduced him to Burne-Jones who in turn introduced Benson to William Morris. Benson became a close associate of Morris who encouraged him to establish a small workshop for the production of turned metalwork which he did in 1880. Hopwever, unlike Morris, Benson fully accepted the implications of mechanical production and designed exclusively for it. He prospered by manufacturing an extensive range of oil and electric light fittings and household utensils in copper brass, electroplate and occasionally silver. Shortly after starting his business, he expanded by building a factory in Hammersmith and in 1887, he opened a shop in Bond Street with the facade designed by himself.

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the factory was made over to the production of aircraft parts for the newly formed Royal Flying Corps. At the cessation of hostilities, Besnon never really recovered interst in his original business and on his retirement in June, 1920, the firm went into voluntary liquidation.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Copper and brass, cut, pierced and shaped
Brief Description
Ceiling light, copper and brass, London, ca.1902, designed by W.A.S. Benson and made by Benson & Co., Hammersmith, London.
Physical Description
The ceiling light of stamped, sheet brass and copper, is in the form of an open flower and is composed of two reflector hoods, one fitting inside the other and three electrical light sockets placed symmetrically around the centre. The outer and larger hood is of brass, the inner of copper and the sockets are enclosed of by copper leaves. Allelements are held together by a threaded core attached to a circular flange by which the fitting is secured to the ceiling.
Dimensions
  • Height: 16cm
  • Width: 38cm
Object history
William Arthur Smith Benson (1854-1924) became articled to the architect Basil Champneys in 1878 during his last year at Oxford and remained with him until 1880. During this time he shared lodgings with the painter and etcher, Heywood Sumner, who introduced him to Burne-Jones who in turn introduced Benson to William Morris. Benson became a close associate of Morris who encouraged him to establish a small workshop for the production of turned metalwork which he did in 1880. Hopwever, unlike Morris, Benson fully accepted the implications of mechanical production and designed exclusively for it. He prospered by manufacturing an extensive range of oil and electric light fittings and household utensils in copper brass, electroplate and occasionally silver. Shortly after starting his business, he expanded by building a factory in Hammersmith and in 1887, he opened a shop in Bond Street with the facade designed by himself.



At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the factory was made over to the production of aircraft parts for the newly formed Royal Flying Corps. At the cessation of hostilities, Besnon never really recovered interst in his original business and on his retirement in June, 1920, the firm went into voluntary liquidation.
Summary
William Arthur Smith Benson (1854-1924) became articled to the architect Basil Champneys in 1878 during his last year at Oxford and remained with him until 1880. During this time he shared lodgings with the painter and etcher, Heywood Sumner, who introduced him to Burne-Jones who in turn introduced Benson to William Morris. Benson became a close associate of Morris who encouraged him to establish a small workshop for the production of turned metalwork which he did in 1880. Hopwever, unlike Morris, Benson fully accepted the implications of mechanical production and designed exclusively for it. He prospered by manufacturing an extensive range of oil and electric light fittings and household utensils in copper brass, electroplate and occasionally silver. Shortly after starting his business, he expanded by building a factory in Hammersmith and in 1887, he opened a shop in Bond Street with the facade designed by himself.



At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the factory was made over to the production of aircraft parts for the newly formed Royal Flying Corps. At the cessation of hostilities, Besnon never really recovered interst in his original business and on his retirement in June, 1920, the firm went into voluntary liquidation.
Bibliographic Reference
Carol Hogben, ed. British Art and Design, 1900-1960, London, Victroia and Albert Museum, 1983. p.8. ill.
Collection
Accession Number
M.16-1979

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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