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Sconce - The Peacock Sconce
  • The Peacock Sconce
    Alexander Fisher, born 1864 - died 1936
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The Peacock Sconce

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1899 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Alexander Fisher, born 1864 - died 1936 (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Steel, bronze, brass and silver, with enamelled decoration

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case WE

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'.

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).

Physical description

The sconce, in the form of a peacock, enamelled in blue and green, has inscriptions on either side of the bird.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1899 (made)


Alexander Fisher, born 1864 - died 1936 (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Steel, bronze, brass and silver, with enamelled decoration

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)


Height: 103.5 cm, Width: 101 cm, Depth: 16.5 cm, Weight: 39 kg Weight includes backboard.

Object history note

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.

Descriptive line

Sconce, steel, bronze, silver, brass and enamel, English, ca.1899, designed and made by Alexander Fisher.

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

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

Labels and date

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]


Steel; Bronze; Silver; Brass



Subjects depicted



Lighting; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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