Our Museum Feature this month is an exquisite tart server in the Blossom pattern by Georg Jensen. This beautiful piece features the iconic “Blossom” design of graceful curves and a sculpted blossom and stem motif. Designed in 1905, Blossom was one of George Jensen’s first hollowware creations, and perfectly exemplifies his trademarks of superb craftsmanship, interest in natural forms, and clean, sleek lines.
Jensen’s desire to combine utility with art is based in the Arts and Crafts movement, which was gaining momentum in Denmark as Jensen began his silversmith career. Characterized by organic, nature-inspired motifs and stylized, flowing forms, Arts and Crafts was a response to the Industrial Revolution, which inundated the market with cheap, utilitarian products that lacked the quality, craftsmanship, and artistry of handcrafted works. Many artists in the movement felt responsible for bringing affordable elements of beauty to everyday life, and Jensen was no different in this regard. His desire to marry style and utility can be seen in his earliest designs (like Blossom), in which he married natural design elements like flowers, fruit, leaves, and birds to functional, everyday items.
Jensen’s fascination with nature most likely stemmed from the rural surroundings of his childhood home in Raadvad, Denmark. His artistic talent was evident at a young age, when he would make sculptures from the clay found in the marshlands near his home. Being cognizant of his artistic aptitude, Jensen’s parents moved to Copenhagen, where Jensen’s talents would have the opportunity to flourish. After Jensen showed one of his sculptures to a professor at the nearby Royal Academy of Art, the professor was impressed, and promptly helped Jensen gain admittance to the Academy. While Jensen was attending school there, his sculpture, “The Harvester,” was exhibited at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibit, and received critical acclaim. By this time, Jensen had completed his goldsmith apprenticeship, but decided to pursue a career as a sculptor. Jensen’s future as a sculptor was not to be, however, and when his subsequent sculptures failed to attract attention, a defeated and impoverished Jensen partnered with a friend to sell their ceramic creations. The venture was a failure, and Jensen turned to silversmithing in order to provide for his family.
In 1904, Jensen opened his own workshop, where he first produced jewelry, then later hollowware and flatware. With this new focus on using silver as his sculpting medium, Jensen had finally found a marketable way to channel his creative energy. After several successful museum exhibitions of his jewelry, and steady sales from his small shop, Jensen began to get a reputation for producing handcrafted, elegant items that were both functional and aesthetic. Jensen decided to expand his production by collaborating with other artists and craftsmen, most of whom shared Jensen’s conviction that the “ornament must never dominate.” Jensen was particularly interested in supporting his designers – making sure they received credit for their work – and their contributions were responsible for much of Jensen’s success. In 1915, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst was so impressed with Jensen’s exhibit at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition that he bought every item on display, bringing attention to Jensen’s work from American buyers. By 1918, the company was appointed purveyor to the Royal Swedish Court, and by the 1920s, Jensen employed as many as 300 craftsmen. Today, Georg Jensen, Inc. is owned by Royal Copenhagen, and continues its legacy of excellence.
Although the Blossom tart server in our museum is not for sale, we do have a variety of Georg Jensen Blossom items available for purchase in our inventory; be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities – here you'll see a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles! Our 500,000-square-foot facilities hold more than 12 million individual pieces in more than 425,000 patterns! Our showroom and museum are open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm ET, 7 days (except holidays); free tours are available from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ET, 7 days. The showroom and museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you!