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Georg Jensen: All in the Family |

Georg Jensen: All in the Family

But, “he employed silversmiths to do the smithing while he concentrated on drawing, designing and business,” said Dr. Krogsgaard, 64, an orthopedic surgeon and professor of sports traumatology and arthroscopy at the University of Copenhagen and Bispebjerg Hospital. So, while everything in the Krogsgaards’ collection was designed by Mr. Jensen, only about 100 pieces — all in solid silver — were made by him.

Mr. Jensen’s business grew; he sold shares in 1916, but by 1918, as the company was opening a shop in Paris, he had become a minority shareholder. In 1924, the designer, who lost three wives to illness over the years, also lost artistic control of the business because his third wife’s family, who were shareholders, refused to work with him after he married a fourth time. He died in 1935.


Photo

From Dr. Krogsgaard’s collection, a green agate pendant that Mr. Jensen made in 1926.

Credit
Laerke Posselt for The New York Times

From a creative standpoint, however, the Georg Jensen name still is all but synonymous with Danish silver design.

“There is a lightness in his things,” Dr. Krogsgaard said. “They are not clumsy — most of them, anyway — but at the same time he used more silver than normal. A lot of his things they are much thicker than you would get from other silversmiths at that time. It was a very high standard and people got value for money.”

Nature was a constant theme in the designer’s work, which was influenced by the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movement of the time, and opals, green agate and amber were often incorporated in his creations.

“I can show you his first known piece,” the doctor said, rummaging around in the boxes, trays and individually wrapped items. “The Adam and Eve belt buckle from 1899.” The cast silver piece, which the doctor said showed Mr. Jensen’s transformation from a sculptor to a silversmith, depicted Eve offering the apple to Adam while Satan, in the shape of a serpent, looked on.

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The Krogsgaard house is decorated with many Jensen pieces, including the three framed drawings and some of the household items on display.

Credit
Laerke Posselt for The New York Times

When the buckle was auctioned in 1969, it was identified as being made by Mr. Jensen while he was still an apprentice. (“It definitely was not,” Dr. Krogsgaard said, noting that Mr. Jensen’s apprentice days were long past by 1899.) The Krogsgaards obtained the buckle in 1999, when it was auctioned again.

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The couple also has the last piece that Mr. Jensen worked on: a small tray that was on his work top when he died.

In addition to building the collection, Dr. Krogsgaard founded the Georg Jensen Society in 2000 to promote the designer’s work. It now has about 100 members — including Mr. Jensen’s descendants — and they generally meet once a year for a lecture or tour.

Dr. Krogsgaard said he thought there had been renewed interest in the designer’s work in recent years, partly thanks to exhibitions like the retrospective, “Georg Jensen — A Tale of Danish Silver,” that opened in September 2015 at Koldinghus Museum in southern Denmark. (There also have been auctions, like the 2005 Georg Jensen silver event that produced $8.9 million in sales for Christie’s New York.)

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The handle decorations on this flatware, designed by Mr. Jensen, were soldered and not integrated into the body of the handle.

Credit
Laerke Posselt for The New York Times

The designer’s reputation “grows,” Dr. Krogsgaard said. “Unfortunately it grows” — adding, with a laugh, that the designer’s work has also become more expensive.

Designs by Mr. Jensen can be seen throughout the Krogsgaards’ house, from the candlestick, fruit bowl and intricately designed ashtrays in the kitchen to the pair of candlesticks, one of which sits atop a stack of auction catalogs and books about the designer. There is also a wooden and silver box, made by the designer in 1906, that holds a seemingly endless supply of jewelry.

And with so much silver in the collection, how much time is spent polishing it? Not much, Dr. Krogsgaard said, noting that the collection’s wrappings help to maintain the shine. As for the items on display, they are polished “when necessary,” he said. “If we have guests, it should look perfect.”

The Krogsgaards have chosen to concentrate on Mr. Jensen’s early work. But when it comes to the brooches, rings, bracelets and cuff links produced by the company, the doctor has bought numerous versions of the same items. Laying them out in small trays, he said, it is possible to track the progress of Mr. Jensen’s workmanship.

“When I see a very early piece I buy it even though I have it already, because you can see the difference,” he said. “You can see it’s handmade. He rarely made a mistake.

“I mean, a lot of silversmiths they have a lot of pieces that are not that good, or they are heavy or clumsy or not very nice looking, but he was always elegant.”


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