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Conservative tastes prevailed in Sweden
in the first two decades of the 20th century.
Innovation was not welcomed. Georg
Jensen was admired but from a distance.
The Art Nouveau and Art Deco influences from
Europe were not explored until Wiwen Nilsson
came onto the scene. The traditionalist design
ethos in Sweden was evident at the Paris Expo
in 1900, however by 1925 and the time of the
Arts Decoratifs Expo the beginning of modern silver
design in Sweden was evident
Wiwen Nilsson was the catalyst for modern silver design in
Sweden. The most celebrated Swedish Artist in jewellery
and holloware, his work was a triumph of simplicity.
He use large sized emerald cut rock crystal stones, simply set in silver.
He had studied at Paris, Copenhagen , and Hanau, where exposure
to German Expressionism, and abstract art influenced his geometric style.
Rectangles, squares, cubes and circles, simple in concept an
gracefully interpreted, fuelled his style in the Thirties.
In 1928 after receiving a gold medal in Paris, he was appointed court jeweller in Sweden.
In Paris the Black and White fashion was subtly created in diamonds and black
enamel or onyx. Nilsson's pendants and pins were large scale stark contrasts of clear
crystal and black onyx set in stepped silver mountings. Lapis, malachite, and moonstones,
always stoic and austere, were joined with perfectly proportioned silver shanks.
Nilsson's workshop was next to a Romanesque church in Lund, Sweden. He appreciated
the peacefulness of this location. The silver that he designed for church services was
"monumental" as he described it. Altar crosses of clear large crystals especially cut for him
were so effective that he altered them into pendants for costume jewellery.
In the Fifties his style changed totally being inspired by Oriental woodcuts
and tapestries. Dragons, and flying cranes, and slender fish were
created in etched silver gilt brooches, unadorned with stones. His workshop
was a personal place with only 30 craftsmen or apprentices working at one time.
He had full control over the workshop and his design ethos was evident in each
piece which evolved entirely by hand.