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

The Peacock Sconce

Sconce
ca. 1899 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This sconce (wall light) incorporates a peacock within its design, a favourite motif in the decorative arts of the late 19th century. It was always intended to be an exhibition piece. Alexander Fisher (1864-1936) first showed this sconce, which he designed and made, at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1899 and again at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Turin, Italy, in 1902.

Materials & Making
Alexander Fisher initially trained as a silversmith at the South Kensington Schools, London (now the Royal College of Art), between 1881 and 1884. Fired with an interest in enamelling by the French enameller Louis Dalpayrat, he went to Paris to study this art. Fisher mastered many different enamelling techniques and made specimen pieces demonstrating his mastery of them. In 1896 he wrote, 'The varieties of enamelling known as champlevé, cloisonné, basse taille, plique-à-jour and Limoges painting, I have mastered in turn...all these methods were used formerly before the present revival; but they were not so completely understood or carried so far as they are today, nor were the whole methods practised by any artist as they are now'.

People
Fisher was an influential teacher. His pupils mainly followed his painting technique, working with translucent colours over silver or copper covered with foils. Their compositions were based on a central figure and a specific theme. Among his students were Nelson Dawson (1859-1942), Ernestine Mills and Lady Carmichael (who taught Phoebe Anna Traquair (1852-1936), whose work is featured in the 'Scottish School' display in the British Galleries).
read Arts and Crafts enamels
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Steel, bronze, brass and silver, with enamelled decoration
Brief Description
Sconce, steel, bronze, silver, brass and enamel, English, ca.1899, designed and made by Alexander Fisher.
Physical Description
The sconce, in the form of a peacock, enamelled in blue and green, has inscriptions on either side of the bird.
Dimensions
  • Height: 103.5cm
  • Width: 101cm
  • Depth: 16.5cm
  • Weight includes backboard. weight: 39kg
Dimensions checked: measured; 22/01/1999 by sf Backboard measured by LH on 19.7.99
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'Reveal'd all things shall sometime be for living eyes that yearn to see' (Textual information; English; left of peacock (viewer's left))
  • 'As black night spreads her wondrous tail, the dark shall flee and light prevail' (Textual information; English; right of peacock (viewer's right))
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Alexander Fisher was one of the most celebrated silversmiths working in the Arts and Crafts tradition. He studied enamelling in Paris where he mastered a number of historical techniques which he adapted for jewellery and other decorative objects. This sconce is a 'tour de force' of the silversmith's skills and illustrates Fisher's confidence in using different metals with a variety of techniques.(27/03/2003)
Object history
Designed and made by Alexander Fisher (born in Stoke-on-Trent, 1864, died in London, 1936). Purchased from Mrs Diana Stickland, granddaughter of Alexander Fisher.
Subject depicted
Summary
Object Type
This sconce (wall light) incorporates a peacock within its design, a favourite motif in the decorative arts of the late 19th century. It was always intended to be an exhibition piece. Alexander Fisher (1864-1936) first showed this sconce, which he designed and made, at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1899 and again at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Turin, Italy, in 1902.

Materials & Making
Alexander Fisher initially trained as a silversmith at the South Kensington Schools, London (now the Royal College of Art), between 1881 and 1884. Fired with an interest in enamelling by the French enameller Louis Dalpayrat, he went to Paris to study this art. Fisher mastered many different enamelling techniques and made specimen pieces demonstrating his mastery of them. In 1896 he wrote, 'The varieties of enamelling known as champlevé, cloisonné, basse taille, plique-à-jour and Limoges painting, I have mastered in turn...all these methods were used formerly before the present revival; but they were not so completely understood or carried so far as they are today, nor were the whole methods practised by any artist as they are now'.

People
Fisher was an influential teacher. His pupils mainly followed his painting technique, working with translucent colours over silver or copper covered with foils. Their compositions were based on a central figure and a specific theme. Among his students were Nelson Dawson (1859-1942), Ernestine Mills and Lady Carmichael (who taught Phoebe Anna Traquair (1852-1936), whose work is featured in the 'Scottish School' display in the British Galleries).
Bibliographic References
  • Greenhalgh, Paul (Ed.), Art Nouveau: 1890-1914 . London: V&A Publications, 2000
  • Joyasde del Modernismo Artista a la Vanguardia. Barcelona: Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, 2010. p. 79, no. 42. ISBN 9788480432252
Collection
Accession Number
M.24-1970

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJune 2, 1998
Record URL