Georg Jensen was a Danish silversmith and designer who lived from 1866 to 1935. He is best known for founding his eponymous design company, which continues to produce high-end silverware and jewellery.
Jensen was a master craftsman who learned his trade as an apprentice to a goldsmith in Copenhagen. He went on to study sculpture and became known for his love of the Art Nouveau style. Jensen’s designs were characterised by their organic and sinuous forms. He believed that well-designed objects should be both functional and beautiful. His work continues to be celebrated for its timeless elegance.
Early life and career
Jensen, born in Raadvad, was the son of a knifegrinder. He began his design journey at the young age of 14 with a goldsmithing apprenticeship with the firm Guldsmed Andersen. In 1884 he finished his apprenticeship and formally became a journeyman.
Surprisingly, he didn’t immediately pursue silversmithing as a career although this is what he is now best known for. Instead, he enrolled in the Danish Academy of Fine Arts and studied sculpture under Theobald Stein. After graduation, he studied ceramics under Joachim Petersen. In 1892 he began to exhibit his work. The public quite positively received his sculptures. However, his wife sadly passed away during this time leaving him a widower. Despite opening a pottery studio in 1898 with Christian Petersen, the revenue was insufficient to support Jensen and his two sons.
Georg Jensen jewellery
After making his first piece of jewellery in 1901, he bit the bullet and invested the little capital he had into opening his own business, a silversmithy: Georg Jensen, in Copenhagen in 1904.
His unique background in both metalwork and fine art meant that he was able to seamlessly blend his skill set to produce naturalistic, serpentine, meandering designs, that utterly typified the Art Nouveau movement and style. His masterful ability to combine a craft that is often associated with harder lines and geometric shapes – metalwork, with a craft associated with organic forms – pottery, resulted in a style that is perhaps one of the most recognisable in the world of silver.
By his death in 1935, Jensen was widely regarded as ‘one of the most important silversmithies in the world’.