The Boston Arts & Crafts Movement

Boston Made - exhibit until 3/29/20

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Boston in the late 1800's and early 1900's fell under the shadow of a conservative reputation stemming from its Puritan roots. Yet there emerged a group of artists who led the Arts and Crafts jewelry movement in the United States. It was an intellectual movement, a return to an emphasis on craftsmanship. A variety of colors and materials were used making it attractive and accessible to all. Factory-manufactured jewelry gave way to one-of-a-kind pieces from small studios; "art jewelry" was born.


"This movement, combining design and social reform,

originated in England as a reaction to the dehumanizing effects of industrialized society on every life."(1)

Ying and yang. Give and take. For every action, there's areaction. The exhibit at Boston's MFA is timely. Industrialization of the western world took us by storm. Now technology is taking us by storm. Our scream for individuality repeats itself. I wonder: How it will manifest?

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit and had three main takeaways.

First: color was everywhere, bold and brilliant.  Second: The best known artists from this time frame were Frank Gardner Hale and Edward Everett Oakes. However, female jewelers also figured prominently in all aspects of this movement. Last: there was a very collaborative element to the work produced in Boston. For example, sometimes you thought a piece was done by one jeweler, but it was done by another.  Rather than compete against each other, the Boston jewelers shared and learned from each other. The result is a distinct, cohesive Boston Arts and Crafts jewelry movement of the highest quality.

1) Page 10, Arts and Crafts Jewelry in Boston, Norie Gadsden, Meghan Melvin, Emily Stoehrer, MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston



Older Post Newer Post