Chafing Dish, Cover and Stand

ca. 1895 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Metalware, Room 116, The Belinda Gentle Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

William Arthur Smith Benson, the designer and maker of this dish, was born in London, educated at Winchester and Oxford, and later articled to the architect Basil Champneys. After meeting William Morris, whom he had admired, Benson 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 1896, Benson became chairman of Morris & Co., for which 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 main output was well-designed utilitarian metalwork, including lamps, teapots, dishes and food warmers. These items were usually made in copper and brass but sometimes in electroplate (a base metal, such as copper, covered with silver by electrolysis). Benson had always been interested in engineering and, unlike so many of his Arts and Crafts contemporaries, had little compunction about using the machine.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 6 parts.

  • Chafing Dish, Cover and Stand
  • Dish
  • Cover (Closure)
  • Burner
  • Wick
  • Lid
Materials and Techniques
Copper brass, electroplated silver
Brief Description
Chafing dish, cover and stand, copper, brass and electroplate, London, ca.1895, designed and made by W.A.S. Benson
Physical Description
Chafing dish and cover. The dish, copper, of oval form, the cover domed, dish and cover electroplated on the inside, the cover surmounted by an urn shaped, cast brass finial, the dish supported on a two tiered copper stand. The latter consists of a tray with a stepped swage, supported on four brass baluster legs rising from a flat base with scroll ends forming the feet. The base holds a brass spirit burner.
Dimensions
  • Height: 20.3cm
  • Length: 31.1cm
  • Width: 18.1cm
Style
Production typeMass produced
Credit line
Formerly in the collection of Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read.
Object history
Exhibition R.F.2002/1174



This stand and spirit burner is identical to one in the Nordenfjeldske Kunstinstrimuseum, Trondheim, Norway, purchased from Siegfried Bing's shop in Paris in 1896. The chafing dish only is illustrated in Benson's catalogue of 1899-1900 (pl.28, no.658A or 6725A).
Summary
William Arthur Smith Benson, the designer and maker of this dish, was born in London, educated at Winchester and Oxford, and later articled to the architect Basil Champneys. After meeting William Morris, whom he had admired, Benson 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 1896, Benson became chairman of Morris & Co., for which 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 main output was well-designed utilitarian metalwork, including lamps, teapots, dishes and food warmers. These items were usually made in copper and brass but sometimes in electroplate (a base metal, such as copper, covered with silver by electrolysis). Benson had always been interested in engineering and, unlike so many of his Arts and Crafts contemporaries, had little compunction about using the machine.
Bibliographic Reference
Simon Jervis, Victorian and Edwardian Decorative Art: THe Handley Read Collection, London, Royal Academy, 1972.
Collection
Accession Number
M.38 to E-1972

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record createdFebruary 13, 2004
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