Modern Danish Metalwork

An article reprinted from The Studio, January 1926 
by Axel Gerfalk

"Danish Handicraft and art industry has been at a very high standard from old times, it having always been considered a shame for an artisan or artists to deliver up a work which was not as it should be, and numerous works from old times preserved for the future generations in the Museum of Rosenberg and in the national Museum bear witness to the great ability and sure taste of these old artisans. Thus tradition was followed down through the ages until the latter half of last century when mass production of German silver wares found its way over the frontier and, at least for a time, owing to the cheapness of the goods, succeeded in forcing Danish artistically made silver wares out of the home market, and even induced Danish silversmiths to imitate the German goods in order to compete with them.

"Things were thus looking rather black for the silver handicraft when 30-35 years ago a Danish artist, Mogens Ballin, took up the work of bringing back silver work to the old Danish type.

"His attempts so far quickly met with success that they were received with much applause by the public, and various young Danish artists soon joined him in his efforts and became his collaborators. Among the pupils he got at the time was Georg Jensen, who has since made world-wide reputation.

"The pioneer, Mogens Ballin, unfortunately died at the beginning of this century but he had lived long enough to for a school of able and enthusiastic artists, who considered themselves in honour bound to continue and maintain the old national traditions to get away from the mechanical work, and instead produce work stamped by the personality of the artist.

"In the ordinary industries it is difficult for Denmark to compete with foreign countries owing to her lack of raw materials, but in the art industry where the personality of the person executing the work is of overwhelming importance, Denmark, they maintain, has a great chance of asserting herself. That this is correct may be deduced from the universal success which the Danish Royal Porcelain has met with, a success doubtless due to the fact that the famous Danish porcelain factories have followed old traditions and by the help of able artists created a special Danish style.

"The same points apply to the silverware industry. The artists here have also old traditions to follow, the receive an excellent training, and the highly developed and sure taste, of which their works as a rule bear witness, enables them to produce work possessed of a charm all its own. This is also readily admitted abroad, for instance, in Berlin, where silver wares from Copenhagen are well known.

"A series of artists are working in silver goods, and amongst the most prominent, besides Georg Jensen, may be mentioned, Just Andersen, Johan Rothe [sic.] (collaborator of Jensen), Evald Nielsen, Kai [sic.] Bojesen, and the large silversmith firms of Dragsted and Michelsen, who employ a number of young and able artists.

"Just Andersen is making the silver wreath for the bier of the late Queen Alexandra, given by the main trades of Denmark, and Georg Jensen is making that presented by the Danes living in England.

An article reprinted from The Studio, January 1926 by Axel Gerfalk