Harald Nielsen had an outstanding talent as a draughtsman and was the originator of some of the most successful designs from Georg Jensen Silversmithy in the 1920s and 30s. At the beginning of his career, Nielsen’s designs were similar to the prevalent Art Nouveau style of the time. Soon enough, though, Nielsen departed from classic Art Nouveau and developed his own distinctive style that incorporated existing design language but, on the whole, represented serious innovation.
Perhaps his most famous design, Harald Nielsen’s 1947 version of the Old Danish silver pattern was a reaction to the years of Denmark’s occupation during World War II. Thoroughly Danish and possessing a solid and expressive feeling of precious silver, the line has been a favourite set for three generations.
The double flutes of the pattern belie its original heritage: they come from a French style that has been common in Denmark since the 18th century. Harald Nielsen used the characteristic decoration to accentuate a shape whose strong, clear lines are utterly his own.
The Old Danish cutlery line is a testimony to Nielsen’s long and intimate affair with silver. He came to the Georg Jensen Silversmithy as an apprentice as early as 1909 and went on to become Georg Jensen’s trusted colleague. After Georg Jensen’s death in 1935, Harald Nielsen made it his life’s work to carry on the master’s work. In total, Nielsen spent more than half a century at Georg Jensen.
In many ways, the story of his involvement–from an early age and low level of expertise to becoming a master craftsman–is the story of the Georg Jensen legacy.