Harald Nielsen (1892 - 1977) is an important figure in the history of the Georg Jensen Silversmithy. He was not only a masterful designer; he helped facilitate a smooth transition from the first generation of the firm’s designers, notably Georg Jensen and Johan Rohde - to those who followed, and played a key role in ensuring the continuity of high standards of craftsmanship and design creativity.
Nielsen was the younger brother of Georg Jensen’s third wife, Johanne Nielsen. Although he aspired to be a painter, in 1909 he became an apprentice in Jensen’s small workshop, where he was initially employed as a chaser. Later, he became one of the Silversmithy’s designers and the director of the smithy’s school for apprentices, the latter a position he held for seventeen years. He served as the Silversmithy’s director from 1954 through 1958, and as its artistic director from 1958 to 1962.
Nielsen’s responsibilities included translating design sketches drawn by Jensen and Johan Rohde into precise drawings which the firm’s silversmiths used when making the actual pieces. Through this process, Nielsen became intimately familiar with Jensen and Rohde’s artistic styles. Nielsen was so familiar with Jensen’s style and intentions that, on at least one occasion, he adroitly created the designs for pieces to accompany a teapot designed by Jensen.
A talented designer in his own right, Nielsen created many jewelry, holloware and flatware designs for the Jensen firm. His designs are characterised by an emphasis on form and line, with a minimum of ornamentation. There is often a striking similarity between the work of Nielsen and Rohde. Like many of Rohde’s designs, Nielsen’s often possess a small amount of applied ornamentation; a stylized dolphin was a favorite device. Other designs by Nielsen, particularly those that reflect the pared-down functionalist style of the 1930s, clearly stand apart from the work of Rohde and other Jensen designers. A prime example is Nielsen’s sleek, geometric flatware design known as “Pyramid” introduced in 1926.
Excerpt from Georg Jensen Holloware, The Silver Fund Collection.