W.A.S Benson & James Powell | Art Nouveau Brass Multi-Utility Lamp | England c.1905
A good quality arts and crafts multi-utility brass lamp for desk or wall with adjustable mechanism, signed W.A.S Benson, with vaseline-glass lampshade probably by James Powell & Sons, Whitefriars. England c.1905.
Ref. Michael Whiteway: “W.A.S. Benson Metalwork” 1981 Exhibition Booklet p.17 for an identical example.(see photos)
Ht.42cm/16.5in, Ht(extended) 57/22.5
William Arthur Smith Benson, London
- William Arthur Smith Benson was an Arts and Crafts designer who campaigned with the National Exhibition of the Arts for “Crafts” to be exhibited as an art form which lead to the formation of the Arts and Crafts movement of the time.
- He originally studied Classics and Philosophy at Oxford but after finishing decided that he would be more suited to architecture, combining art and engineering, two of his interests.
- Benson began making metalwork and went on to set up his own workshop where he created and sold new designs specialising in the area of lighting.
- By 1900 Benson had reached his zenith both in England and on the continent. In Paris Benson’s light’s were displayed in Siegfrield Bing’s gallery “Maison L’art Nouveau”.
- Benson often, but not exclusively, used James Powell & Sons of Whitefriars to supply the glass lampshades for his fittings.
- Today Benson is considered to be the premier British arts and crafts lighting manufacturer of the period with his pieces being most sought after.
Whitefriars Glass Company, London
James Powell & Sons
- In 1834 James Powell, then a 60-year-old London wine merchant and entrepreneur, purchased the Whitefriars Glass Company, a small glass-works off Fleet Street in London.
- Powell, and his sons Arthur and Nathanael, were newcomers to glass making, but soon acquired the necessary expertise and specialised in making church stain glass windows.
- During the latter part of the c.19th, the firm formed a close association with leading architects and designers. Whitefriars produced the glass that Phillip Webb used in his designs for William Morris
- By 1900 production lines of vaseline and opalescent glass-ware, including lampshades, were proving to be extremely successful with clients such as William Arthur Smith Benson using their glass in the design of their lights.
- The firm’s name was changed to Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd in 1919