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( Originally Published 1951 )
About 1890 a strong reaction against eclecticism arose in Europe and in the United States. Artists tried to replace the historic and imitative with originality, to design simple, functional forms, to decorate with flowing line accented by floral motifs. The style is usually referred to as l'art nouveau or jugend.
In Sweden it became important shortly before 1900, and among devotees was the noted architect, Ferdinand Boberg who lived from 1860 to 1946. His interpretations are always individual and restrained and they influenced Swedish adaptations. Unlike his foreign colleagues, who used friezes of stylized lilies and tulips, Boberg preferred a simple pine-branch motif. Typical is a writing set made after his design by C. G. Hallberg in Stockholm in 1900. A snake is coiled around the edge, its head forming the decorative hinge for the inkwell. It is typical of the Jugend period that decoration does not cover the surface, but is limited to one or several borders. A coffee service, made by K. Anderson in Stockholm in 1908, is an example of the most common (and most banal) design. Pieces are decorated near the base with a border of stylized flowers in low-relief.
The Jugend style waned around 1910, but silver exhibited at the Baltic Exposition in Malmo in 1914 still showed traces of it. Today we usually look with disdain on pieces from the beginning of the century, too often basing judgment only on mass-produced silver plate, forgetting the handmade pieces designed by artists and executed by skilled craftsmen. The Jugend was, in fact, the first consistent attempt since the Empire period to create an original style.