Georg Jensen Silver ~
The 100th Anniversary
Courtesy Imagination Unlimited Pin #159 set silver stones
Design Georg Jensen, 1914
Caryl Rose Unger, Harold M. Unger, M.D. and Jamie
As seen in Antiques & Art Around Florida, Winter/Spring 2005
This year, in between April 20th
and August15th, lovers of Georg Jensen Silver, who
had the opportunity to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, were
treated to an exceptional opportunity. Three generations of our
family were fortunate enough to have been able to make this
pilgrimage. This gave us the chance to have visited two
outstanding exhibitions that were mounted to honor the one
hundredth anniversary of the opening of Georg Jensenís shop at
36 Bredgade in Copenhagen.
Georg Jensenís life story and the chronicle
of his development from a one man operation in 1904 to the
Silversmithy today is a wonderful and exciting saga. This story
has been well documented in other publications.
Our goal is to give a verbal snapshot of what
the two exhibitions, one at the National Museum of Art in
Copenhagen and the other at the Oregaard Museum in Hellerup, had
offered for the visitor, collector, historian, and antique
The landmark exhibition offered by the
Statens Museum for Kunst (the National Museum of Art) was a
beautifully creative exhibition. That the National Museum
offered space to a company, still in operation, in the field of
silver was a testimonial to the place Georg Jensen, the man and
Georg Jensen, the Company, held in the estimation of the art
The exhibit was produced with the help of
Michael Von Essen, curator of the Georg Jensen Museum and staged
by Bille August. It was our good fortune to have been escorted
through the exhibit by Mr. Von Essen. A more knowledgeable Georg
Jensen expert and more pleasant docent could not be found
Courtesy Imagination Unlimited
Blossom 2D Tea Pot Design Georg
August, a winner of an American Oscar for
Documentaries, used his theatrical background to bring a most
interesting concept to this show. His excellence in display and
innovative lighting only enhanced the beauty of the silver and
art which was being presented.
It was Augustís feeling that the Seasons
always have had a profound impact on the people of Denmark. This
influence was felt by Artists, as well. To this end, August
chose to display the silver, along with art from the Museumís
collection in separate sections of a maze, entitled- Summer,
Autumn, Winter, Thaw, and Spring.
The first room of the Maze-like exhibition
was Summer. As one walked into the room there was a clear
covering over a display case set into the floor. Almost all of
the 268 pieces of the Acorn pattern, designed by Johan Rohde,
were underneath and walking on it was a startling sensation. On
one side of the room was a painting by Valdemar Moller
(1864-1905 entitled: "Sunset, Fontainbleau"). Its colors ranged
from white-hot to a warm reddish yellow.
The row of beige fabric display columns on
the other wall supported a range of brooches which focused on
the Jensen firmís celebration of the world of flora and fauna.
These works, which were not arranged chronologically, were
designed by Georg Jensen, Viviana Torun Bulow-Hube, Henning
Koppel, Arno Malinowski, and Lene Munthe.
The stylistic range of the brooches extended
from the intricate weaving of vines and set stones in Brooch
#159, by Georg Jensen to the smooth, elegant simplicity of the
Mobius Ring Brooch #374 by Torun.
Also shown in this section was the "Grape
Bowl" No. 264A which has become symbolic of Jensenís design and
style. The stem of the bowl was like a vine, twisted and uneven
and the hanging grapes were attached to the cleanly designed
body of the bowl.
Leaving Summer, one moved into the Autumn
section. The light became dimmer. The paintings had a more
somber approach to their view of landscapes. These included
paintings by Vilhelm Hammershei (Near Fortunen, Jaegersberg Deer
Park) and an abstract untitled ,framed piece made of adhesive
foil on plastic foil, by Claus Carstensen.
Here, the silver became increasingly
abstract. The designs were simple. Ornamental elements were
reduced to a minimum in all of the pieces. There were five
candlesticks- one by Harald Nielsen, three by Johan Rohde. The
last was by Sigvard Bernadotte. Bernadotte was born the son of
King Gustav VI Adolphus of Sweden and the brother of Queen
Ingrid of Denmark.
There were five other paintings, done by Per
Kirkeby, Jens Birkemose, Wilhelm Freddie and two by Asger Jorn.
Courtesy T.C. Thulstrup & G.E.C. Gads Forlag Bowl # 19 Louvre Bowl Design Georg
The first two pieces of Jensen hollowware
appeared here. The first was a Jensen bowl. This round, footed
bowl supported by stylized leaves is called the "Louvre Bowl".
This bowl is in the permanent collection of the Louvre Museum in
Two other bowls, one by Georg Jensen and one
by Harald Nielsen emphasized how both of the artists used the
beauty of the objectís shape, rather than any decorative
elements, to create outstanding pieces of silver.
The jewelry in Autumn began with Georg
Jensenís Necklace #1set with Carnelians. There were eighteen
other necklaces that showed the range of designs from 1916 to
2004. This group included the work of Georg Jensen(1), Vivianna
Torun Bulow-Hube(3), Harald Nielsen(1), Anne Ammitzboll(1),Nanna
Ditzel(4), Astrid Fog(2), Bent Gabrielsen(1), Arno
Malinowski(1), Henning Koppel(2), and Ib Dahlquist(1).
The last of the pieces, done by Jacqueline
Rabun, from the United States, was created especially to
commemorate the anniversary year by using a design based on the
Here one entered the darkest room of the
labyrinth. Geometric shapes and biomorphic forms were emphasized
in the pieces displayed. There were two paintings, one by Finn
Mickelborg and the other by Gunnar Aagaard Andersen. Their
abstract shapes in some way mirrored the silver in this section.
As one entered this space a spectacular use
of lighting highlighted the huge fish platter by Johan Rohde.
Each hammer mark on the curved lid of the platter reflected a
separate ray of light that bounced off and landed in a large
random pattern of spots of light that resembled stars in the
heavens. It was a breath taking moment for all of us.
Two bowls and an exquisite fish Platter by
Henning Koppel were featured in this section. The platter with
its wide belly and open lip handles was uniquely simple yet in a
glance made it seem as though the platter was actually holding
the fish in its expanse.
Verner Pantonís dish, in contrast, was a flat
sheet of silver which was crushed and molded as though it had
been in a collision. Here, too we found the first of the
dramatic works by Allan Scharff. His free flowing forms, many of
which relied heavily on bird like shapes, were dramatic and
The space ended with a series of rings by
Nina Koppel, Regitze Overgaard, Kim Buck, and the Silversmithy,
plus a watch by Edward Kindt-Larsen.
This phase of the exhibition and the year was
thaw. To symbolize the long, steady progression towards Spring,
this portion of the exhibition was a long hallway. The paintings
by Richard Mortensen and Franciska Clausen were colorful blends
of shapes with differing textures.
Courtesy Michael Von Essen Bowl #1386 Design
Kim Buck, Georg Jensen 2004.
To express this journey towards Spring, nine
different designs were highlighted in the tea and coffee sets
that were shown. They were designed by Soren Georg Jensen,
Verner Panton,Harald Nielsen, Johan Rohde, Georg Jensen, Henning
Koppel, and Sigvard Bernadotte. A fantastic silver wire bowl by
Kim Buck was also on display.
These sets dramatically showed the range of
skill and design the firm has exhibited. It started with The
remarkable Blossom teapot #2D, by Georg Jensen, which heralded
an entirely new approach to silver design when it appeared in
1905. It ended with the Henning Koppel and the Sigvard
Bernadaotte sets. We were struck by the skill, virtuosity, and
sheer beauty the Jensen company and its designers had been able
Fun, playfulness and energy were demonstrated
in this, the last room of this wonderful journey. Contrasted
with the lushness of form as was shown in the first room,
Summer, there was an emphasis on the new ways of working with
form. Circles and spirals seemed to be symbolic of rebirth and
Courtesy Imagination Unlimited
Watch "Vivianna" #326 By Vivianna
Torun bulow-Hube 1968
Three painting by Asger Jorn, Kasper Bonnen
and Peter Bonde added color and lightness to the room.
Simple, beautiful and yes, sensuous shapes
characterized the pieces in this section. This was evident in
the watch "Vivianna" by Vivianna Torun Bulow-Hube. Its mirror
face and open bracelet expressed how Torun felt. That one must
rebel against the restraints imposed by time. In its original
design Torun placed no hands on the face of the watch, to
further reinforce this concept. Hands had to be added when it
went into production.
Allan Scharffís Pitcher, "Humming-bird"
almost flew off its pedestal. This area included a large thermos
designed by Sigvard Bernadotte, Pitchers by Johan Rohde and
several by Henning Koppel, whose Pipkin was also shown. These
and the "Ibis" by Allan Scharff were fitting endings for the
exhibit. The designersí ingenious use of forms that were
innovative and unique in their simplicity was a memorable climax
to this spectacular exhibition. The last display, before leaving
the room, was a wall showing hundreds of the Michelsen Daisy
brooches, arranged particularly well and suggesting a field of
Courtesy T. C. Thulstrup & G.E.C. Gads Forlag Three Pitchers
Design Henning Koppel #978, 992, 1053, 1948-56
The exhibition was so exciting that we went
back a second time just to savor its beauty.
The Unknown Georg Jensen
This second exhibition, The Unknown Georg
Jensen, was produced through the remarkable efforts of the
members of Georg Jensenís family and their organization, "The
Georg Jensen Society". Spearheaded by Michael Krogsaard
(granddaughter, Pia Jensenís spouse) and with the help of others
in the family and many friends ,a milestone exhibition has been
created. There was also financial support from the Danske Bank
and the Augustinus fund.
The show was in what had formerly been a
private home, the Oregaard Museum, in Hellerup. This town is a
few miles from Copenhagen. It was the site of Jensenís last home
and his final resting place, in the Hellerup Church Cemetery.
This exhibit offered the viewer an
opportunity to treasure the many items owned by Georg Jensenís
relatives that were put on public display for the first time.
Most were given as gifts to family members for special
occasions, such as engagements, weddings, birthdays,
anniversaries, christenings and as personal presents, made by
Georg Jensenís own hand, each of these had a very special and
The Hellerup Exhibition successfully gave one
an excellent insight into Georg Jensenís skill, not only in
silver, but in sculpture and ceramics.
Georg Jensen Society Hanging Flower pot #193 Design Georg Jensen for
Before establishing himself as a silversmith,
Georg Jensenís first venture was in the field of sculpture.
Examples of his work included here are his first sculpture, "My
Father" done in 1887, a plaster model possibly of the Goddess
Diane created while Jensen was in Naples, Italy, a Bronze of his
son Vidar from 1900, a statue, of his son, Jorgen,1902, a mask
of fired clay of The Doctorís daughter from Horsholm, and a
statue of the actor Olaf Poulsen done in 1899.
Jensen also designed a porcelain vase called
Storm. This was not produced until 1990. When it was released by
Royal Copenhagen it included a silver disc in the base that
indicated it was a Georg Jensen design, with a facsimile
From 1898 to 1903 Jensen designed for the
Ipsen Terracotta factory. Twenty-two items were known to have
been produced, including a version of his statue" The primitive
man" which showed a Boar hunter just after the kill.
All but three of these clay pieces have been
found and those were illustrated with black and white photos
from an original catalogue.
This phase of Jensenís productive life has
never been so extensively presented and it gave the viewer an
excellent opportunity to appreciate his skill and originality.
Jensenís earliest known piece of silver,
designed in 1899, was shown. It was called The Adam and Eve
Beginning in 1904, when Jensenís shop first
opened, he devoted himself fully to the design and production of
Silver works. Only the Jensen family could have presented such
an array of Georg Jensenís early work, since many were unique,
and had never been put into production.
There were brooches, Tortoise shell combs set
with agate and amber, belt buckles with or without matching
brooches, a matching hair barrette and belt buckle from Jensenís
own hand in 1906. There were rings and cake servers from
1904-08, and bracelets, and silver cups from 1904-08.
Among the earliest pieces of his work were
two spoons and a pair of casters made from drawings by a
prominent Danish architect, Anton Rosen. Jensen and Rosen
continued their relationship when Rosen went on to design the
plans for the Palace Hotel. The hotel was situated on the City
Hall Square in Copenhagen. Still in existence and actively
operating, the Palace was a showplace for Jensen because he was
commissioned to design all of the flatware and service items for
the dining rooms of the hotel. The silver plate items ranged
from the smallest spoon to elaborate coffee - tea sets,
beautiful urns, cake plates on pedestals and centerpieces.
Jensenís original drawings were hung on the museum walls near
the silver. Although designed by Jensen in Denmark, the Palace
silver plate was manufactured by Mappin and Webb in London,
When the Palace Hotel was sold in 1965, all
of this plate was dispersed and it is remarkable that such a
fine selection could have been assembled and shown here.
Jensenís cup, made for the Butcherís Guild in
1917, was on display. Although it has been pictured many times
in books, seeing it first hand demonstrated, to us, Jensenís
great ability to design finely formed decorations. The cupís
massive size was indeed a surprise to all of us.
Courtesy Georg Jensen Society Jewelry box ebony and silver
design Georg Jensen 1906
In the next section of the exhibit, the items
that Georg Jensen made for special occasions were displayed.
Because of the personal relationship between Jensen and the
recipient, these were all unique. Many items from the familyís
gorgeous and special collections have never been seen in public,
prior to this time. They included a jewelry box of ebony and
silver done in1906, an inkwell made in 1911 and various items of
wonderful jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, rings, and brooches).
A highlight of the exhibit was the
presentation of work which Jensen produced during a two year
period (1924-1926) while he resided in Paris. France. One major
piece is a covered tureen made especially for the "Exposition
Internationale Des Arts Decoratifs Moderne" in 1925. There was a
fruit bowl with two handles from 1926 and a picture frame
showing Jensenís use of filigree work. Jensen often used
filigree decoration in that period of time. A bonboniere with a
lid was also exhibited.
Two styles of flatware Jensen designed in
that era were on display. One of these, Viking or Nordisk went
into production in 1927 and the other, very simple linear
pattern, that has never been produced.
Here, too, were Georg Jensenís very personal
gifts of jewelry for his four wives, eight children and other
close family members. The last section of the exhibit narrowed
the focus to Jensenís creation of designs that truly represented
his concept of functionalism. Here the pieces were characterized
by their exquisite shapes with minimal decorative elements.
Having emerged from the period of Art Nouveau, one had a clear
picture of how Jensen had moved with the times and indeed set
the pace and standard for excellence in design. So many
Silversmiths, worldwide, who saw Jensenís silver, have used
Jensenís designs for inspiration.
During the last 10 years of his life, Jensen
had set up a small smithy in the basement of his own home in
Hellerup. Most of the items shown here were made in his home
smithy and then signed with his signature, confirming their
Courtesy Georg Jensen Society Brooch #96A and earrings Amber
& Agate gift from Georg Jensen to wife, Agnes 1912
The warmth of the display in a home-like
setting and the personal presence of members of the family who
acted as docents, made this a memorable and illuminating
experience. Our family had the pleasure of being led through the
exhibit by Morten Moller Georg Jensen, (Great Grandson of Georg
Jensen), whose knowledge and kindness made us feel very much at
home in the Museum.
In summary these two exhibitions demonstrated
two very exceptional aspects relating to Jensen. The States
Museum showed the virtuosity and evolution of the parent firm
through these one hundred years. Necessarily, it shows not only
Jensenís work but that of the other noted designers associated
with the Smithy.
The family exhibition on the other hand
offered one a unique insight into the amazing versatility of
Georg Jensen in sculpture, ceramics and finally in silver. He
will be known forever as one of the worldís finest craftsmen of
silver. Jensenís designs continue to be admired for their
timeless beauty and high quality of workmanship. In so many ways
Jensenís elegant silver has a way of calling out to people and
saying "Take me Home!"
About the authors:
Caryl Rose Unger and her
husband, retired surgeon, Harold M. Unger M.D. have been avid
researchers into the work of Georg Jensen for 40 years. They
are assisted by their Grand-son Jamie Unger Fink who helps
extensively with their computer and photography. He currently
attends the University of Florida as a Freshman.
They operate an Antique
business Imagination Unlimited, in Miami Beach, Florida
specializing in the work of Georg Jensen and other Danish
silversmiths. In addition to many publications they have
lectured extensively on the Jensen story. Their interest has
spread through their family and they are assisted by their
children and now Grand children in both their work and their
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