Beginning and thriving in the 1920’s and 30’s, the Art Deco would seem to have a much larger impact on America than Britain.

The first appearance of Art Deco was noticed in Paris. Lights and lamps were repeatedly inspired by the obsession with the geometric shape, particularly the rectangle. Most lights were done in solid colours, with a simple dark outline. In some cases, a nude figure would be the base of the lamp. The preoccupation on the geometric and human separates the Art Deco movement from the Art Nouveau movement which focused on natural inspiration. Art deco incorporated the use of stainless steel, glass, metal and plastics in design. It was typified by glossy surfaces, seamless design and the use of horizontal surfaces for a clean, sharp look.

Arthur von Frankenberg and his muse

A New York City – based Frankart Inc had a mass-production of lamps, ashtrays, bookends, vases and other items which started to operate in 1922. The founder of the company and artist Arthur von Frankenberg began to design items for manufacturing in 1920. He sculpted his figures from a live model – Leone Osborne, an English model. Once posing, Leone offered to Arthur von Frankenberg a large Benares brass bowl instead of ashtray when he looked for one. That gave Arthur von Frankenberg a good idea to create a small bronze ashtray with the nude girl in the same pose which would be a thing of beauty as well as functional. That was a moment of Frankart figure appearance. Miss Osborne remained the model for the entire series later produced by Frankart.

Most lights were done in solid colours, with a simple dark outline. In some cases, a nude figure would be the base of the lamp. Frankart lamps and lights made by FrankArt, Inc. in the United States combined these two features. The most distinguishable feature of such lamps was that their nude females were often referred to as ‘nymphlike.’ However, many of the tiers, bases, and other components of the lamps, including the lights themselves, took on the geometric characteristics of the skyscraper designs popular at the time.

Collecting Frankart lamps

Early FrankArt lamps may be difficult to find and with little variation as the catalogues in the early 1920’s only offered four lamps in three colours. However, they expanded their colour range in the 1930’s and boasted eighteen lamp variations. Many lamps are marked with the year at the base. Because of FrankArt going out of business in the 30’s, likely due to the American Great Depression, little is known of the lamps after that. FrankArt lamps are more expensive when the lamp includes both figurine and light. Prices vary, but generally sell for £375-£600 yet some intricate pieces can reach into the thousands. Figurines by themselves go for much less, usually under £75. Want to sell a Frankart lamp of figurine? List unlimited number of items for free!