Silvery white metal. The third most abundant element in the earth’s crust (after oxygen and silicon), aluminium is found only in the form of its compounds, such as alumina or aluminium oxide. Its name is derived from alumen, the Latin name for alum, and in the 18th century the French word alumine was proposed for the oxide of the metal, then undiscovered. The name aluminium was adopted in the early 19th century and is used world-wide except in the USA, where the spelling is aluminum, and in Italy where alluminio is used. Following the discovery of processes for separating the metal from the oxide, at first experimentally in 1825, then commercially in 1854 and industrially in 1886–8, aluminium rapidly came to be valued as an adaptable material with both functional and decorative properties. Thus in addition to being used in engineering, transport, industrial design and household products, it was also widely adopted in architecture, sculpture and the decorative arts....
Mark Firth and Louis Skoler
(b Hanau, July 1874; d Berlin, July 3, 1913).
German silversmith, sculptor and painter. He attended the Zeichenakademie and the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hanau then studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Berlin, and the Académie Julian in Paris, before finally becoming a student of the sculptor Louis Tuaillon at the Kunstakademie, Berlin. From 1894 to 1903 he worked at the renowned silverware factory of Bruckmann & Söhne in Heilbronn, modelling goblets, cutlery, sports prizes and medals etc. In collaboration with Otto Rieth, professor at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin, Amberg made a silver fountain (h. 3.2 m) for the Exposition Universelle, Paris, in 1900.
After designing the silver for the Town Hall of Aachen (1903) and spending a year in Rome (1903–4), Amberg completed his most important work, the design of the Hochzeitszug (Berlin, Tiergarten, Kstgewmus.), a table centre for the wedding of Wilhelm (1882–1951), Crown Prince of Germany and Prussia and Herzogin Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin (...
(b London, June 18, 1828; d London, Dec 4, 1905).
English sculptor, silversmith and illustrator. He was the son of a chaser and attended the Royal Academy Schools, London. At first he gave his attention equally to silverwork and to sculpture, exhibiting at the Royal Academy from 1851. An early bronze, St Michael and the Serpent, cast in 1852 for the Art Union, shows him conversant with the style of continental Romantics, and his debut in metalwork coincided with the introduction into England of virtuoso repoussé work by the Frenchman, Antoine Vechte (1799–1868). In the Outram Shield (London, V&A), Armstead displayed the full gamut of low-relief effects in silver, but its reception at the Royal Academy in 1862 disappointed him, and he turned his attention to monumental sculpture. Among a number of fruitful collaborations with architects, that with George Gilbert I Scott (ii) included a high degree of responsibility for the sculpture on the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, London. Here Armstead’s main contribution was the execution of half of the podium frieze (...
[Fr.: ‘new art’]
Decorative style of the late 19th century and the early 20th that flourished principally in Europe and the USA. Although it influenced painting and sculpture, its chief manifestations were in architecture and the decorative and graphic arts, the aspects on which this survey concentrates. It is characterized by sinuous, asymmetrical lines based on organic forms; in a broader sense it encompasses the geometrical and more abstract patterns and rhythms that were evolved as part of the general reaction to 19th-century historicism. There are wide variations in the style according to where it appeared and the materials that were employed.
Art Nouveau has been held to have had its beginnings in 1894 or 1895. A more appropriate date would be 1884, the year the progressive group Les XX was founded in Belgium, and the term was used in the periodical that supported it, Art Moderne: ‘we are believers in Art Nouveau’. The origin of the name is usually attributed to ...
Informal movement in architecture and the decorative arts that championed the unity of the arts, the experience of the individual craftsman, and the qualities of materials and construction in the work itself.
The Arts and Crafts Movement developed in the second half of the 19th century and lasted well into the 20th, drawing its support from progressive artists, architects and designers, philanthropists, amateurs, and middle-class women seeking work in the home. They set up small workshops apart from the world of industry, revived old techniques, and revered the humble household objects of pre-industrial times. The movement was strongest in the industrializing countries of northern Europe and in the USA, and it can best be understood as an unfocused reaction against industrialization. Although quixotic in its anti-industrialism, it was not unique; indeed it was only one among several late 19th-century reform movements, such as the Garden City movement, vegetarianism, and folksong revivals, that set the Romantic values of nature and folk culture against the artificiality of modern life....
(b Isleworth, Middx, May 17, 1863; d Godden Green, Kent, May 23, 1942).
English designer, writer, architect and social reformer . He was educated at King’s College, Cambridge. As a young man he was deeply influenced by the teachings of John Ruskin and William Morris, and particularly by their vision of creative workmanship in the Middle Ages; such a vision made work in modern times seem like mechanical drudgery. Ashbee played many parts and might be thought a dilettante; but his purpose was always to give a practical expression to what he had learnt from Ruskin and Morris. An intense and rather isolated figure, he found security in a life dedicated to making the world a better place.
In 1888, while he was training to be an architect in the office of G. F. Bodley and Thomas Garner (1839–1906), Ashbee set up the Guild and School of Handicraft in the East End of London. The School lasted only until 1895, but the Guild, a craft workshop that combined the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement with a romantic, apolitical socialism, was to be the focus of Ashbee’s work for the next 20 years. There were five guildsmen at first, making furniture and base metalwork. In ...
American silversmiths, active in New York. The company was founded by the silversmith Isaac Marquand in 1810, and traded as Marquand & Co. In 1839 the company was bought by Henry Ball, Erasus Tompkins and William Black, and was known as Ball, Tompkins & Black until 1851, when it became Ball, Black & Company. In ...
(b Copenhagen, March 9, 1871; d Copenhagen, Jan 28, 1941).
Danish painter and metalworker . He trained at private schools of painting in Copenhagen. In 1889–1904 he travelled to Paris and Brittany several times and between 1892 and 1906 was often in Italy. Mette Gauguin (b 1850) inspired in him an interest in French art, and it was she who introduced him to Paul Gauguin and Paul Sérusier in Brittany. He was encouraged by his friend the Dutch painter Jan Verkade to convert from Judaism to Catholicism in 1893. Ballin introduced French Symbolism and Art Nouveau to Denmark, and he was valued for his knowledge of the work of Gauguin, Sérusier, the Symbolists and the Synthetists. Symbolist inspiration is apparent in one of his few paintings, At the Beach (1900; Copenhagen, M. Bredholt priv. col.)
After his conversion to Catholicism, Ballin became interested in religious artefacts and abandoned painting for metalwork. In 1899 he opened a metal workshop with the sculptor ...
(b Tours, March 24, 1878; d 1963).
French medallist. He studied first at the school of art in Tours and then at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He was an able and prolific follower of such medallists as Frédéric de Vernon and Oscar Roty: his decorative and sentimental plaquettes, among them Wedding (1902), First Step...
(b London, April 4, 1872; d London, July 10, 1953).
English sculptor and medallist. He was the son of the painter and etcher Alfred Walter Bayes (1832–1909) and brother of the painters Walter Bayes (1869–1956) and Jessie Bayes (1878–1971). He studied at the City and Guilds Technical College and the Royal Academy School in London. His early work consists of reliefs and decorative objects, and bronze statuettes, some partly enamelled, which show the influence of Alfred Gilbert and the New Sculpture. After World War I his work became more stylized. He executed a number of large-scale reliefs including History of Pottery through the Ages (polychrome stoneware, 1938; London, V&A) for the headquarters of Doulton’s, the ceramics manufacturers, on Albert Embankment, London, and History of Drama through the Ages (artificial stone) for the Saville Theatre (now the MGM Cinema), Shaftesbury Avenue, also in London, works which exemplify the artist’s eagerness to experiment with new materials. He worked closely with ...
(b Bo’ness, 1866; d Edinburgh, Feb 23, 1937).
Scottish architect, active in India. He was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and Royal Academy Schools. At the RIBA he was a Silver Medallist (1894). After a period articled to Hippolyte Blanc (1844–1917), he worked with Alfred Waterhouse and R. W. Edis before going to South Africa as architect to the Real Estate Corporation. In 1901 he became Consulting Architect to the Government of Bombay, before succeeding James Ransome (1865–1944) as Consulting Architect to the Government of India in 1908, the first to be employed outside the ranks of the Public Works Department engineers. He remained in this post until 1921.
He was proficient in a wide variety of styles. He designed barracks and housing for the new cantonment at Delhi and devised a standardized design for the Post and Telegraph departments, of which the Nagpur Post Office and Agra Post Office (1913...
(b Milan, 1847; d Magreglio, 1927).
Italian silversmith. He was known for his complex designs of flatware, chalices and inkwells. His flatware designed c. 1885 was Renaissance Revival in style, while that designed c. 1887 (Milan, Castello Sforzesco) is more reminiscent of the Mannerist style of Benvenuto Cellini and Antonio Gentile, the handles being adorned with the forms of nymphs and satyrs. Bellosio is also well known for his work exhibited at the Turin Exhibition of ...
(b London, Oct 17, 1854; d Manorbier, Dyfed, July 5, 1924).
English designer. He was educated at Winchester and Oxford, and in 1877 he was articled to the architect Basil Champneys. Encouraged by William Morris, in 1880 Benson set up his own workshop in Hammersmith specializing in metalwork. Two years later he established a foundry at Chiswick, a showroom in Kensington and a new factory at Hammersmith (all in London), equipped with machinery to mass-produce a wide range of forms, such as kettles, vases, tables, dishes and firescreens. Benson’s elegant and spare designs were admired for their modernity and minimal use of ornament. He is best known for his lamps and lighting fixtures, mostly in copper and bronze, which are fitted with flat reflective surfaces (e.g. c. 1890; London, V&A). These items were displayed in S. Bing’s Maison de l’Art Nouveau, Paris, and were used in the Morris & Co. interiors at Wightwick Manor, W. Midlands (NT), and Standen, East Grinstead, W. Sussex. Many of Benson’s designs were patented, including those for jacketed vessels, which keep hot or cold liquids at a constant temperature, and for a ‘Colander’ teapot with a button mechanism for raising the tea leaves after the tea has infused. Benson sold his designs, labelled ‘Art Metal’, through his showroom on Bond Street, which opened in ...
Erich G. Ranfft
(b Perleberg-Brandenburg, June 29, 1871; d Berlin, Jan 2, 1938).
German medallist, sculptor and writer. He trained in medal arts and sculpture at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Frankfurt am Main (1891–7) and in Paris (1897–9) at the Académie Julian. He dedicated himself to making medals and assimilated the naturalistic and Impressionist styles current in French art, as in his baptismal medal Let the Child Come to Me (1898–9; Frankfurt am Main, Mus. Ksthandwk). In 1899 Bosselt began to gain considerable public recognition in Germany for his medals, which after 1901 became more stylized and decorative. By 1905 he had produced a large body of work, including medals and several plaques of, mainly commissioned, portraits and exhibition notices. In addition, he promoted the revival of medal arts in Germany through his published writings. He was also widely known as a gifted Jugendstil craftsman as a result of his stay from 1899 to 1903 at the Künstler-Kolonie in Darmstadt, where he developed a close friendship with fellow worker Peter Behrens. Bosselt’s output in Darmstadt consisted of jewellery and domestic items of decorative metalwork, which feature sculpted bronze figurines (e.g. table lamp, ...
(b London, 1864; d London, Dec 6, 1938).
British medallist and sculptor. He studied in London at the National Art Training School, under Edward Onslow Ford; and in Paris, where he was influenced by the work of Jules-Clément Chaplain and Oscar Roty. In 1886 he produced a medallic portrait of the Khedive of Egypt and in the following year was commissioned by the Royal Mint to produce designs for the Egyptian coinage. The 1890s saw an increasing number of commissions for medals: from the City of London for the Visit of the King and Queen of Denmark, the Opening of Tower Bridge and the Diamond Jubilee; from the Geological Society for the Joseph Prestwich medal; and from the Royal College of Science for the Thomas Huxley memorial medal (all London, B.M.). In 1903, following the death of George William de Saulles, Bowcher stepped in to finish the great seal of Edward VII. He was a founder-member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and until the 1930s exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy. In the early 1920s he produced, under the direction of M. H. Spielmann (...
(b Schavli, Kovno [now Kaunas], June 12, 1871; d New York, April 5, 1924).
American medallist of Lithuanian origin. He trained as a seal-engraver under his father and worked as a jewellery engraver and type cutter. In 1890 he went to New York, where he worked as a die engraver of badges, and in 1898 to Paris to study at the Académie Julian and later with Oscar Roty. He first exhibited medals in the early years of the 20th century. The influence of Roty is apparent in the low relief and soft-edged naturalism and also in the inclusion of flat expanses of metal in his designs. He occasionally ventured into sculpture, as in the Schenley Memorial Fountain (bronze; Pittsburgh, PA, Schenley Park), but he was best known for his medals and plaquettes, both struck and cast, and his sensitive portraits assured his popularity. The powerful head of President Roosevelt on the Panama Canal medal (bronze, 1908) and the tender Shepherdess plaquette (electrotype, 1907...
Scottish ironworks established in 1759 near Falkirk; by 1800 it was the largest smelting works in Europe, with 1000 employees. Its revolutionary iron-smelting techniques enabled the company to mass-produce fire-grates and stoves; its designers included Robert Adam, who designed a number of elegant fire surrounds, stoves and grates. In the late 18th century the company made some items of cast-iron furniture; it later supplied architectural ironwork for the Edinburgh New Town. James Watt (1736–1819) made his first steam engine at Carron, and Henry Shrapnel (1761–1842) made his exploding shell in the ironworks. Carron is also the eponym of the carronade, a small naval cannon used by the British at Trafalgar.
The company closed in 1982. Its complete archive, which documents its relationship with Adam and other designers, was deposited in the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh. Falkirk Museum houses the entire collection of the ironworks museum, including many castings and trade catalogues. A new company called Carron Phoenix operates beside the original foundry, manufacturing kitchen sinks and hardware....
Style rooted in 19th-century antiquarian studies of ancient Celtic art in Britain and Ireland. It was a mainly decorative style and first appeared in the 1840s, remaining fashionable from the 1890s to c. 1914 and lingering on through the 1920s. Derived from the complex, intertwining, linear motifs of ancient Celtic ornament, it was employed in metalwork, jewellery, embroidery, wall decoration, wood inlay, stone-carving and textiles. The Celtic Revival was closely related to the English Arts and Crafts Movement’s aim of social and artistic reform and was part of the general upsurge of Romantic interest in the Middle Ages. Its chief characteristics were raised bosses, tightly enmeshed roundels and bands of sinuous, criss-crossing lines, similar to but more abstract than Art Nouveau designs. Sources of inspiration were such Celtic antiquities as the Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice (both 8th century
(b Mortagne, Orne, July 12, 1839; d Paris, July 13, 1909).
French medallist and sculptor. He entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1857; here he studied sculpture under François Jouffroy and medals under Eugène Oudiné. In 1863 he won the Prix de Rome for medal-engraving and worked in Rome from 1864 to 1868. He exhibited regularly at the Salon from 1863, receiving numerous awards. In 1881 his status as the leading French medallist was recognized by his election to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. His appointment as Art Director of the Sèvres Manufactory in 1896 and as a Commander of the Légion d’honneur in 1900 crowned a career that had been immensely successful in transforming the public perception of medallic art.
Chaplain changed public taste by moving away from the established tradition by which medallic portraits and reverse compositions emerged from a completely flat field bounded by a raised circular rim. Instead, using much lighter patinas than had been fashionable earlier in the 19th century, he incorporated the field into the composition, using it not as a neutral background but as the pictorial space in which event or portrait sitter was situated. By combining a rococo approach to the decorative qualities of clothing and drapery with a rigidly classical approach to composition, he evolved a style that was as suited to the commemoration of great state occasions, such as the ...
(b Paris, June 10, 1856; d Neuilly, Hauts-de-Seine, March 3, 1909).
French sculptor, medallist and designer. After studying with the medal engraver Hubert Ponscarmé, he first exhibited at the Salon of 1879. His first significant work, exhibited in 1883, was a bas-relief, Young Woman Suckling her Child; the final version of this, in marble, was later ordered by the State (Aix-en-Provence, Mus. Granet). This work contained most elements of the artist’s aesthetic—the choice of a familiar subject from life, treated in a natural and robust style, in the manner of Aimé-Jules Dalou. From the start Charpentier had a clear mastery of bas-relief, and his best work is in modelled reliefs—medals, small portrait medallions of great warmth and integrity (e.g. Paris, Mus. d’Orsay), mural decorations and works on a monumental scale, such as the frieze of The Bakers, modelled in 1889 and executed in 1897 in enamelled bricks by the firm of Muller (Paris, Square Scipion).
Charpentier exhibited with the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and later the Salon d’Automne, both in Paris, and from ...