Table Lamp (England), ca. 1900
This is a table lamp. It was designed by William Arthur Smith Benson and made by James Powell & Sons and manufactured by W.A.S. Benson Ltd.. It is dated ca. 1900 and we acquired it in 2009. Its medium is mold-blown soda glass, brass, copper, wood (base), metal, wire. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.
William Arthur Smith Benson was a leader of the British Arts and Crafts movement. Although he trained as an architect, Benson took up metalwork at the suggestion of Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. Benson’s light fittings became models for other Arts and Crafts metalwork¬—innovative lighting designs for both candles and electric light.
Early in his career, Benson focused predominantly on handcrafted objects and candle lighting. In 1881, he hired the brass and copper worker, John Lovegrove, who contributed great experience and skill and with whom Benson collaborated for many years. Benson’s workshop succeeded in mixing hand and machine production by maintaining an honesty of construction and a high quality of workmanship and design.
Benson was also an active advocate for his field. He became a founding member the Art Workers’ Guild in 1884, which brought together progressive architects, designers, and craftsmen, and also helped to establish the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1887 to address the lack of exhibitions for decorative art in Britain.
Benson’s use of modern machinery and his passion for the handmade Arts and Crafts approach is evident in this design. The decorative style of the copper and brass decoration forming plant leaves and the use of opalescent glass for the globe show Benson’s continued interest in artistry and new technology. Many of Benson’s electric lamp designs are based on an assembly of standard parts used in different ways depending on the function, which demonstrates his fascination with machinery in both design and production.
Initially, the introduction of electric lighting into British society was limited to the upper classes. By the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, however, cheaper and more reliable electrical distribution brought electricity to a broader range of society. As a noteworthy engineer and innovative designer, Benson’s electric lamps were held in high esteem by both upper- and middle-class consumers.
This object was
Paul F. Walter.
It is credited
Gift of Paul F. Walter.
Its dimensions are
H x diam. (a,b: overall): 74 x 14 cm (29 1/8 x 5 1/2 in.)
It has the following markings
Marked on knob: "WAS Benson Ltd"
Cite this object as
Table Lamp (England), ca. 1900; Designed by William Arthur Smith Benson (English, 1854 - 1924); mold-blown soda glass, brass, copper, wood (base), metal, wire; H x diam. (a,b: overall): 74 x 14 cm (29 1/8 x 5 1/2 in.); Gift of Paul F. Walter; 2009-10-1-a,b