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Mogens Ballin

Mogens Ballin (1871-1914) was born in Copenhagen. He trained as a painter and was attracted to the French styles of his time. His studies with Gauguin's wife allowed him to take in the beauty and impressions of Gauguin as well as of fellow artists such as Van Gogh. 

In 1891, Ballin and Dutch artist, Jan Verkade, traveled to Brittany where they joined the group, Les Nabis. Les Nabis were inspired by Gaugin and painted in the style called Synthetism.  

In 1899 Ballin opened his workshop in Tuborg, producing items of brass and metal. He set up the workshop around the ideas of William Morris and John Ruskin of the English Arts and Crafts movement, focusing on creating small handmade items at a fair price. His personal style bore more resemblance to that of Thorvald Bindesboll, an influential Danish silversmith. He also worked with Siegfried Wagner, who helped in developing models and shared in operating the business. They produced a variety of pieces and entered them into an exhibition the following year. Their style was praised as being both clean and simple while keeping with the times. 

During this first year, Ballin received a commission for a baptismal fountain for the Hellerup Church. It was also in 1901 that a young journeyman, Georg Jensen was taken on board. A philosophical man, Ballin would talk of various movements within the arts and kept in touch with trends. He began to take an unconventional approach to his materials, experimenting with enamel and electroplating, which were very uncommon in Denmark at the time. 

Georg Jensen became an important designer within the field of silver work, however, his designs for Ballin were almost opposite of the expected. He rarely submitted works in jewelry or in silver under the Ballin name (he was given the liberties to produce them under his own) but designed an assortment of items like nut crackers of tin or items in pewter and bronze. Jensen's works also showed his desire and background in sculpture at the time, though it was Ballin's care with jewelry, creating, and finishing jewelry pieces, that left the strongest impression with Jensen and would prove to be inspirational in the young silversmith's future. It was also with Ballin that Jensen would first work with his lifelong friend, Johan Rohde, who approached Ballin about executing a set of silver cutlery.

In 1907 Ballinís wife passed away. With her death, Ballin had lost interest in the shop and sold it to H. P. Hertz after completing his final piece, a perpetual candle for the abbey in Fiesole in honor of his wife. 

Just Andersen worked at the reborn company. He trained as a sculptor at the School of Danish Crafts in 1912, the same year he submitted a vase to the Ballin workshop. A copy of the vase still appears at the Museum of Decorative Arts today. Andersen carried on from Ballin, as he did with the altar that was promised by Ballin in 1900 with the birth of his first child. A promise that Andersen undertook with Ballin's mother's blessing in 1914, the year that Ballin passed away. In 1914, upon his 80th birthday, the Bishop von Euch, requested that Ballin create a crosier of silver and ivory. Andersen would step in to complete the master's task. Working with Jean Rene Gaugin, son of Paul Gaugin, the great artist whom Ballin originally studied art under, the piece was completed. 

Excerpts from Mogens Ballin book produced by the Vejen Art Museum

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