William Arthur Smith Benson

Is your surname Benson?

Research the Benson family

William Arthur Smith Benson's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

William Arthur Smith Benson

Birthplace: Paddington, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Death: 1924 (69-70)
Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of William Benson and Elizabeth Soulsby Benson
Husband of Venetia Benson
Brother of Godfrey Rathbone Benson, 1st Baron Charnwood; Francis Robert Benson; ? nn Benson, 3rd son; ?nn Benson, 1st daughter and ? nn Benson, 2nd daughter

Occupation: Designer
Managed by: Terry Jackson (Switzer)
Last Updated:

About William Arthur Smith Benson

William Arthur Smith Benson

From Wikipedia (with improvements to translation from German)

William Arthur Smith Benson (* 17th October 1854 in Paddington, Middlesex; † 5. July 1924 in Manorbier, Pembrokeshire) was an English craftsman and designer. Benson was a founding member of the Guild of Craftsmen in 1884. [1]

Youth and Education

WHAT Benson, (short form of his name) was the eldest son of William Benson (1816-1887), a lawyer in Lincoln's Inn, and his wife, Elizabeth Soulsby, daughter of Thomas Smith of Colebrook Park (Tonbridge, Kent). He had two sisters and three brothers: Francis Robert Benson, actor, [2]. And Godfrey Rathbone Benson, first Baron Charnwood [3] William was the least sociable among his siblings. Benson grew up in a comfortable house in Winchester, Hampshire. It was expected that he would follow in the footsteps of his father and becom a lawyer. He liked to stay with his uncle, William Arthur Smith, who led the boy to the lathe, and the basics of mechanics.

First William attended the Darch's Preparatory School in Brighton, Sussex, and then the Winchester College. In 1874 he joined the New College, Oxford, where Benson studied Classics and Philosophy. He fought his way through to the final and then decided to learn architecture from Basil Champneys [4] because he felt that he could combine with an education in architecture his interests in art and mechanics. He stayed until 1880 in Champneys Office at Drottningtorget 32, but soon realized that he preferred to work with his hands.

Career choice

In 1877 Benson made the acquaintance of Edward Burne-Jones and his circle through which in 1878 he also met William Morris. This meeting was the trigger for Bensons career as artisan. He began with designs for furniture and metalwork and helped Burne-Jones with a drawing for a piano. [5] Burne-Jones encouraged Benson's interest to make things, and it is believed that Benson has designed many of the romantic, chivalric armor and Models of ships and crowns that were presented in Burne-Jones paintings. In 1884 he sat model for the king in Burne-Jones painting "King and the Beggar Maid Cophetua". [6]

His workshop

Through the encouragment of Burne-Jones and Morris and a little financial support from his father in 1880 he set up his first workshop in the North End Road, Fulham, one where even Burne-Jones lived. Here he worked with a few workers, who produced the metal parts of copper and brass for his beautifully shaped household items with driven on foot lathes. [7]

With the support of William Morris, he specialized in ironwork.

Benson was asked by Burne-Jones,to rebuild his house in Rottingdean,which he had bought in September 1880. It is known from the "Memorial" by Lady Burne-Jones that Benson designed the oak furniture. When in 1889 the opportunity arose to buy the house next door, Burne-Jones again asked Benson for his help as an architect and he combined both houses with a studio. [8] Margaret Burne-Jones introduced Benson to his wife Venitia Hunt.

On October 26, 1886 married Benson Venetia Hunt, daughter of landscape painter Alfred William Hunt. They had no children. [9] Venetia was a blessing for this dreamy and disorderly man. It was also beneficial that Venetia came from an artistic family, was sociable and well networked with rich people - she herself was John Ruskin's god-daughter - who had an open mind and bought Bensons light equipment. She was also a modern woman who liked shopping in department stores and loved modern sports and games. Many of his customers were impressed by the young, dreamy designer, but somehow shocked when they visited him in his studio, which was full of machinery and chemical solvents.

The EYOT works

In 1890 he built the EYOT works on a large plot in Eyot Garden, St Peter's Square, Hammersmith, not far from Morris Kelmscott House. Morris gave him the nickname "Benson Brass" (Brass Benson). The company now began with the mass production of household goods from copper boilers up to fireplace screens. Benson also developed a coating to prevent tarnishing for its copperware. The company was very successful and many of Benson's designs have been patented.

Mostly he constructed for his work special machines and tools, and employed more than 100 workers. Unlike the members of the Arts and Craft movement, Benson wanted to make its products as accessible to as many people as possible through the automated mass production.

Benson bought a studio, which he used as an office and a showroom on the Campden Hill Road, centrally located for the "Holland Park set" The Holland Park Circle, artist houses on Holland Park Road and Melbury Road. [10] In 1887, he opened an exhibition space in 82 and 83 New Bond Street. Bensons goods were there, and also sold by the company Morris & Co. in its business in Oxford Street.

First (late 1880s) his lamps were provided for oil. But with the invention of the incandescent lamp and distribution of electricity Benson used the glass lampshades of James Powell from Whitefriars, [11]. The Vaseline glass gave a particularly beautiful light. [12]

Samuel Siegfried Bing admired Bensons works and sold them in his shop, the influential Maison L'Art Nouveau in Paris.

1908 Benson along with John Dearle designed two wallpaper patterns that were printed by Jeffrey (manufacturer), as he also designed furniture for JS Henry & Co. and grates, etc. for the Coalbrookdale foundry and Falkirk.

After the death of William Morris 1896 Benson became CEO of William Morris & Co. Ltd. Decorators until he retired in 1920 and sold his company. In 1899 he designed for Morris & Co. a cabinet in rosewood with inlays of various wood species. The doors were decorated with metal bound edge glass. [13] In 1924, he died at his home "Castle Cottage", in Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, Wales.


Arts and Crafts Essays / Metal Work | "Metal Work" in Arts and Crafts Essays By members of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. With a preface by William Morris. Publisher: Rivington, Percival, & Co. London 1893


Ian Hamerton (ed.): WHAT Benson:. Arts & Crafts Luminary and Pioneer of Modern Design Antique Collectors' Club, 2005. ISBN 978-1-8514-9476-7. Caroline Dakers: The Holland Park Circle:. Artists and Victorian Society Yale University Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-3000-8164-0. Charlotte Fiell, Peter Fiell (ed.): 1000 Lights: 1878 to 1959, Volume 1. Taschen Verlag, 2005 ISBN 978-3-8228-1606-6. Benson, William:. Arthur Smith (1854-1924), metalwork designer Page 60, John D. Culme in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Suppl.. 11. Missing persons from the beginning to 1985. Publisher: Oxford University Press, 1993 (online at the Internet Archive)

External links

Some of Benson's work at the Art Institute Chicago Tray made ​​of copper (the impression of overlapping leaves meant that the tablet was named "Lily mat".) Works of Benson on Pinterest Benson Trademarks Works of Benson in the Chicago Art Institute WHAT Benson: Genius of the Arts & Crafts WHAT BENSON ARTS & CRAFTS ADJUSTABLE BRASS TABLE LAMP Christie's Sale 5743, Lot 432 - of 22 June 2010 Lamps and candleholder WAS Benson (with stamp) Hotplate made ​​of silver with brass. Design Benson ca. 1895, manufacture and sale by Morris & Co.


Hochspringen ↑ The Art Workers' Guild - History Hochspringen ↑ Sir Francis Robert Benson (1858-1939) Hochspringen ↑ Benson, Godfrey Rathbone, First Baron Charnwood Hochspringen ↑ Basil Champneys Architecture Hochspringen ↑ Art Case Piano Hochspringen ↑ King and the Beggar Maid Cophetua at the Tate Gallery Hochspringen ↑ copper kettle and tea pots Hochspringen ↑ North End House in Rottingdean. After the reconstruction. Page 195-96 in: Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones. Vol II Lady Georgina Burne-Jones. Publisher: Macmillan and Company, London, 1904 Hochspringen ↑ Christies Sale 6911 on 9 June 2004 - Venetia Hunt painted by Burne-Jones Hochspringen ↑ The leading artists of the 'Holland Park Circle' - Artists' Houses at the Holland Park and Melbury Road Hochspringen ↑ WHAT Benson. An outstanding and extremely rare Arts & Crafts copper & brass chandelier with 6 James Powell of Whitefriars Vaseline shades Hochspringen ↑ James Powel of Whitefriars History Hochspringen ↑ Cabinet by WAS Benson

view all

William Arthur Smith Benson's Timeline

Paddington, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Age 70
Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom