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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

Danish, 1894 - 1967
Manufactured by Louis Poulson & Company, Denmark
PH "Artichoke" Lamp
Copper, steel, and enameled metal

27 1/8 x 33 1/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the Design Council, 2000

Arts of Europe

Beginning in the mid-1920s, architect and designer Poul Henningsen began designing light fixtures, fulfilling a lifelong passion. In the early years, Henningsen developed scientific studies and theories concerning the quality of light that would greatly influence his designs. One of his most famous, the PH Artichoke” Lamp, became immediately popular, gracing the lobby spaces of public buildings in Denmark as well as the interiors of private homes and businesses, as it still does today.

Henningsen’s theories center on the ideas that light must not blind; there must be soft transitions between the lighted and shaded areas of a lighting fixture; designs must correct the color of light; and designs must achieve good shadows. By 1958, when he designed the PH "Artichoke" Lamp for the Langeline Pavilion Restaurant in Copenhagen, he had perfected his goal of achieving harmony in light. The lamp's graduated tiers of copper and enameled metal shades wrap around a central light core. They emit a warm glow, thereby changing the nature and softening the volume of light.