Musée d'Orsay: William Benson Candlestick

William Benson

William Benson (1854-1924)
Before 1887
Silver plated bronze
H. 11.5; W. 35; D. 17 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Droits réservés


Bougeoir [Candlestick]

Benson, the English architect and designer, was famous between 1890-1914 for his production of domestic objects in metal. His utilitarian objects, particularly in the field of lighting, brought him international acclaim.

This candlestick, one of an identical pair conserved at the Musée d'Orsay, belongs to a series of light fittings designed to be placed on a mantelpiece or a piano. Benson produced many variations, freely adapted for oil or electric lamps, mostly produced in brass or polished copper.
In its most simple form, seen here in silver plated bronze, it accentuates above all the very modernist refinement of form. Moreover the artist himself wrote in a work of 1883, that he wished to avoid "the capricious eclecticism and excessive search for effect which are the usual faults of designers".

Benson's models are rarely dated with any accuracy. However a similar pair of candlesticks can be seen on the mantelpiece of the artist's studio in the Campden Hill Road area of London, where Benson was photographed at work around 1886-1887. As proof of Benson's international success, this model was then copied by the German firm Cari Deffner in Esslingen.

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