Two Danish firms, Michelsen and Jensen, founded in the mid nineteenth century, gave Scandinavian gold and silver work a prominent position in the period from 1920 to 1960.
Until the late 1870s, Michelsen's production was largely neoclassical. After that, the firm helped popularise the 'Dragon' or 'Viking' style. This style, rooted in the interest shown by the Romantic period for Nordic mythology is regarded as a significant factor in the revival of Scandinavian decorative arts. The 'Viking' style developed specific features in each country. Although it was never very popular in Sweden, it played a leading role in the search for national identity in Norway and Finland. It had no political impact in Denmark but led to the creation of many objects, particularly jewellery and gold and silver ware.
This little vase is a perfect illustration of the way Michelson appropriated the 'neo-Viking' repertoire and combined it with the lessons drawn from Japanism. Highly stylised marine themes are treated in large areas of solid colour with no perspective. But Art Nouveau dominates in the flowing rhythm of lines and curves which animate the object with an uninterrupted swirling movement.