Born in 1866, the son of a knife grinder in the town of Raadvad, Denmark, Georg Jensen began his training as a goldsmith at the age of 14 in Copenhagen. His apprenticeship ended in 1884 and Jensen was then free to follow his artistic interests.
He attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts to study sculpture and graduated in 1892; he began exhibiting his work soon after. Although his ceramic sculpture was well received, it was difficult to make a living as a fine artist and he pursued other options, first as a modeler at the Bing & Grondahl porcelain factory and then with a small pottery workshop. Once again, his work was well received, but sales were slim. By this time, he was a widower with two small sons.
Taking a Chance on Silver
In 1901, he abandoned pottery and began again as a silversmith and designer with master silversmith, Mogens Ballin. After working with Ballin for several years, Jensen made a pivotal decision — he risked what small capital he had and opened a silversmith in 1904.
Jensen’s training in metalsmithing, combined with his education in the fine arts, led him to revive the tradition of the artist as craftsman. The beauty and fine quality of his Art Nouveau creations caught the eye of the public and his success boomed. By the end of the 1920s, Jensen had opened retail outlets in New York, London, Paris, Stockholm, Berlin, and Buenos Aires.
Style and Legacy
Before Jensen died in 1935, he had thoroughly implanted his firm with his strongly held ideals of both artistry in design and excellence in craftsmanship. This tradition lasted throughout the 20th century. Although Jensen himself was a proponent of the Art Nouveau style, he encouraged his designers to express their own creativity, which expanded the stylistic scope of what the firm produced and allowed it to adapt to changing times.Contact a Specialist View all Artists/Makers