Wall Lights

  •  Designer / Maker

    Designed and manufactured by William Arthur Smith Benson (1854-1924)

  • Detail

    Copper and brass, with painted wood

    44.4 x 34.3 cm

    English (London), circa 1890

  • Marked

    ‘W. A. S. / BENSON’ (on the fixing plates on the backs).

  • Collection

    Private collection.

  • Notes

    Benson, who took a pioneering interest in electric lighting, also produced a range of fixtures for gas, oil and candle light.

    The present sconces, with their shield-shaped back-plates and protruding arms, appear to have been inspired by seventeenth-century sconces (see, for example, Ralph Edwards,The Shorter Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1964, 1974 edn, p. 427, nos 4 and 5). The convex copper panels were intended to act as reflectors.

    Despite the misgivings of others, Benson was particularly fond of copper.

    In his contribution to Arts and Crafts Essays By Members Of The Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, London, 1893, 1903 edn, p. 78-79,he wrote: ‘Copper, distinguished among metals by its glowing red tint, has as a material for artistic work been overshadowed by its alloys, brass and bronze; partly because they make sounder castings, partly it is to be feared from the approach of their colour to gold.’