A renaissance of art in metalwork was booming in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. William Benson encouraged by William Morris opened a metalworking factory in Fulham in 1880, producing metal ware, and especially electric light fittings in the fashionable Arts & Crafts style. On the death of Morris Benson bought Morris & Co. running the company until 1917.
Also at this time the Art Nouveau style had taken over in Europe and was also influencing design in Britain. The flowing patterns of inverted hearts and lilies were sometimes blended into Arts & Crafts pieces producing impressive items such as the large Jug in our illustration.
The smaller Jug is in the more pure Art Nouveau, and the straight lines incorporated into the design show the influence of the Vienna Session version of the style.
The whole period was alive with innovative designs in metal, with names such as Christopher Dresser designing more angular patterns influenced by Charles Rennie MacIntosh and the Art Nouveau of central Europe, the forerunner of Art Deco.
The subject of metalwork in this period gives an insight into the huge variety of styles of the day, even a small collection can be fun to build and also be elegant and useful at the same time.
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