Erik Magnussen (1884 – 1961) Danish silversmith and designer

Console set in Sterling silver and ivory, designed by Erik Magnussen
Console set in Sterling silver and ivory, designed by Erik Magnussen

Danish silversmith – Art Deco and Cubist works

Erik Magnussen was a silversmith and designer from Denmark. He lived in the United States from 1925 to 1939, first as artistic director of the Gorham Manufacturing Company in New York City and subsequently with his workshop in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Early Life

Magnussen was born on 14 May 1884 in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, the son of author and translator Johannes Julius Claudi Magnussen and Hedvig Charlotte Claudine Sommer.

Magnussen worked as a sculptor’s apprentice at his uncle’s art gallery, Winkel & Magnussen, from 1898 to 1901. He also studied sculpting under Stephan Sinding, a Norwegian artist located in Copenhagen, and silver chasing with Viggo Hansen (1859–1930), a silversmith. He worked as a chaser at Otto Rohloff’s workshop at the Unterrichtsanstalt des königlichen Kunstgewerbe-Museums in Berlin, Germany, from 1907 to 1909.

Denmark

Magnussen returned to Copenhagen and founded his jewellery and silver workshop, where he created pieces in Georg Jensen and a variety of silver products. In 1912, he closed the company and acquired a position as director of the Department of Arts and Crafts at Bing & Grøndahl, where he designed gold and silver-plated porcelains. He left Bing & Grondahl in 1913 to start his silver workshop once more. 

Magnussen worked for the P. Ipsens Enke terracotta foundry from 1921 until 1925. He continued to produce jewellery and won the top prize at the International Exposition in Rio de Janeiro in 1922 with one of his designs.

  • Cubic Coffee Service in Silver with patinated and gilt decoration, designed by Erik Magnussen
  • Modern American footed bowl and pair of candlesticks engraved with bands of stylised triglyphs designed by Erik Magnussen.
  • Console set in Sterling silver and ivory, designed by Erik Magnussen
  • An opal and sapphire pendant by Erik Magnussen circa 1918

United States

Magnussen immigrated to the United States in 1925 and established a studio in New York City. In the same year, he was engaged as artistic director of the Gorham Manufacturing Company to revitalize its line of domestic silverware. Initially, he created Neoclassical pieces with domes, vines, talons, tulips, and fluting as decorative features.

He gained notoriety in 1927 when he designed a tea set influenced by Cubism. On the other hand, Magnussen’s work for Gorham began just as the Great Depression hit, and his work did not sell well. In 1929, he left Gorham to work for the German firm August Dingeldein & Sohn in New York. He relocated to Chicago in 1932 to start his workshop. In 1933, he relocated it to Los Angeles and shuttered it in 1939.

Denmark (1939 – 1951)

Magnussen returned to Denmark in 1939. Due to a shortage of materials following World War II’s end, he primarily manufactured jewellery.

Works

Magnussen’s early jewellery was in the Skønvirke style, which was popular in his local area. They are René Lalique-inspired in their use of insects and semi-precious stones. His works from his time in America are designed in the Art Deco style, using cubism and skyscraper construction as inspirations.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, April 28). Erik Magnussen (silversmith). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:25, May 28, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Erik_Magnussen_(silversmith)&oldid=1020301389

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