The name Georg Jensen is associated with luxury Scandinavian jewellery and silver design. Jensen was an accomplished Danish silversmith born in 1866 in the countryside town of Radvaad, Denmark. His birthplace was instrumental in his lifelong work, which was inspired by natural forms and themes. Over the period of his career, Jensen worked with many different artists and designers which also influenced the direction of his style, likewise many prolific jewellers were impacted by his work. The overall ‘Georg Jensen style’ is actually a mixture of different influences, but the early elements of nature are still the main identifying feature of his brand.
Initially, Jensen apprenticed as a goldsmith, but he later found his passion in sculpting. He eventually gained admission as a sculpture student to the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen. Although he never succeeded as a sculptor, this early training significantly influenced his later work as a silversmith.
He first found recognition with a piece displayed at the Danish Pavilion of the 1900 World Fair in Paris. The piece was a collaboration with designer, architect and artist Johan Rohde and was critically acclaimed both in Denmark and internationally.
His early work was greatly influenced by the Art Nouveau style, which he was exposed to during his travels to France. He abandoned sculpting and became committed to creating objects that were not only beautifully crafted but also served a practical purpose. At the age of 37, Jensen started his own silver business and in 1904 he exhibited for the first time as an independent silversmith at the Museum of Decorative Art in Copenhagen. His exhibition was a resounding success and his business steadily grew.
Initially, Jensen produced mainly silver jewellery since hollow-ware and flatware was expensive to make at the time. The pieces were all mostly made of silver and incorporated less expensive stones such as amber, moonstones, malachite and opals. These were aimed at the middle-class consumer as pieces of art, as opposed to the upper-class who wanted precious stones in elaborate setting. He made various types of jewellery including rings, necklaces, earrings, brooches, and hat pins. The pieces often depicted objects found in nature and were crafted like miniature sculptures.
His success with jewellery encouraged Jensen to create silverware. He made a teapot with an intricate floral pattern which would be later known as ‘Magnolia’ and formed part of a tea/coffee set. In 1905, he collaborated with Johan Rohde once again to create a series of flatware based on Rohde’s clay designs. He liked the finished pieces so much, that the two formed a permanent creative partnership. Rohde was responsible for designing the ‘Acorn’ pattern – the most famous of Jensen’s flatware lines. Their lifelong business partnership was based on mutual respect and admiration and lasted until they both died in 1935, just months apart.