Georg Jensen (31 August 1866 – 2 October 1935) was a master silversmith and, after establishing a modest silversmith’s workshop in Copenhagen in 1904, soon became a focus for the most important artists of the time. Upon his death in 1935 he was described as the finest silver artist in the world for three centuries.
The Danish silver company Georg Jensen was founded in 1904 and by the 1920s it had shops all over the world. The son of a blacksmith and born in 1866, Georg Jensen grew up in a poor family in the little industrial town of Raavad north of Copenhagen. Jensen began his training in goldsmithing at the age of 14. His apprenticeship, with the firm Guldsmed Andersen, ended in 1884 and this freed young Georg to follow his artistic interests. In his spare time, he undertook courses in drawing, geometry, engraving, and modeling during which time he decided to become a sculptor. After graduating in 1892, he first made art pottery before deciding he would return to his old craft of metalsmithing to support his family using his own designs in order to make silver jewellery. He worked under the eye of master designer, Mogens Ballin. In 1904, he opened his own shop in Copenhagen at 36 Bredgade and soon had 60 people working for him. His designs were a success, but he fell a little short in business know-how as he constantly needed to rely on new investors. In 1925, he left the company and moved to Paris to start a new workshop, but this venture was unsuccessful and he returned to Copenhagen. There, he rejoined the company as the artistic director where he continued to design for the company bearing his name until his death.
The Georg Jensen name has always carried the mantle of the highest quality silver, manufactured using the most expensive techniques of production. At one time, Jensen made 33 flatware patterns, 23 of which are no longer produced, and about 1200 holloware items such as bowls, candelabra, pitchers, tea sets, trays, vases, wine coolers and covered fish platters. Like Georg Jensen jewellery, many holloware pieces were embellished with semi-precious stones like amber, amethyst, garnet, lapis lazuli, malachite, opal and quartz. Over the years before his death in 1935, Jensen hired a series of talented designers who were allowed to use their own initiative while creating works under his name.
Some of the firm’s more notable designers include: Johan Rohde (1856-1935), Just Andersen (1884-1943), Gundolph Albertus (1887-1970), Harald Nielsen (1892-1977), Arno Malinowski (1899-1976), Count Sigvard Bernadotte (1907-2002), Henning Koppel (1918-1981), Bent Gabrielsen (1918-), Nanna Ditzel (1923-2005) and Vivianna Torun Bulow-Hube (1927-2004).
Jensen was one of the most talented, original and influential silversmiths of the 20th century. Although Jensen himself was a proponent of the Art Nouveau style, he had the wisdom and foresight to allow his designers their own freedom of expression which expanded the stylistic scope of what the firm produced and allowed it to keep step with time. Georg Jensen silver designs live on today as one of the most highly sought examples of the art of fine silver.
For Bang & Olufsen the Georg Jensen name lived on when various examples of his studio work were commissioned by the company for resale in the early 1990s, including the following: Clock/barometer set, Expandable bookends.