BY LAMP LIGHT: Gump’s illuminates fine Asian design

BY LAMP LIGHT: Gump’s illuminates fine Asian design

Where you place your lighting, of course, is important. It's where light is most welcomed and desired, especially when it's your personal expression of what to illuminate and what to enhance.

On a table next to where you sit and read? Yes, especially useful in days and nights as these. By a window to enhance or replace natural light around sunset? Welcomed, in the right balance.

We also believe that the appeal of the lamp itself is part of the experience. And nowhere is this more evident than when Gump's love of fine Asian design is translated into the look of our lamps. We've been doing this for a while now, from the early 1900s in fact. More about that later.

Here are two elegant examples of what lamp light can do for your home.


The cherry blossom, or "sakura," is often called Japan's unofficial national flower. Both the tree and its blossoms are celebrated in Japanese culture: an inspiration for art and the impetus for entire communities to celebrate the change of seasons. There also a flowering form is silhouetted in a composed garden, and here at home magnificent groves of blossoming trees are found from Washington D.C. to California: cherry blossoms are welcome harbingers of nature's beauty.

Our lamp recalls themes that famously appear in the "ukiyo-e" genre, classic woodprints by Hiroshige and others. Their vibrant celebration of life and landscape was captured in a compact form. The refined golden hue of our Sakura Lamp's compact, classic Asian-urn form complements the hand painting of branch and bird.

Woodblock print of Cherry Blossoms and Mount Fuji.

Artist: Hiroshige (1797-1858)

Cherry blossoms often symbolize clouds as they bloom and float overhead.

Our sakura blossoms and branches are home to birds of paradise, which add graceful life to our lamp, its base crafted of porcelain in the style of a Chinese urn. Celebrated for their color and plumage, the birds of paradise take full advantage of the reflected lamp light to display eye-catching hues in porcelain as they do in nature.






Vignettes of an Asian fan and other traditional imagery seem almost to float against detailed backgrounds. This is achieved by the careful application of color to the Mari Lamp. Softened by a white cambric shade, the fine porcelain base shows the mastery created when the subtly scalloped form and hand painted detail combine in homage to its 17th century Japanese original.

The fan is an immediately recognizable icon of Japanese culture. It's one of a small number of ancient crafts whose origins lie at home in Japan. As imagery, fans are entwined in the nation's long and fascinating history, especially associated with the times when they were reserved for display by the Samurai class and Japanese aristocrats.

Note the decorative golden finial. It's a gesture to Chinese symbolism, a form of the "Shou" which denotes happiness, harmony in life, and longevity.

Our lamp celebrates its glowing harmony with Imari ware, whose decorative detail and carefully chosen colors achieve a balanced whole.

Antique Japanese Imari Charger. Late 19th century.




Now, picture Gump's in the early decades of the 1900s. The nation and the world joined San Franciscans for the World's Fair launched here in the City by the Bay, the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. Exhibitors came from all and far corners of the globe, blending the exotic and the familiar. China, Japan and other Asian countries brought wares, art and architecture on a scale not seen before on the West Coast.

The China National Pavilion at the Panama-Pacific Exposition.

A.L. Gump, the legendary "Mr. Gump of Gump's," and host to kings, presidents and celebrities, was enthralled by what he saw at the Fair. Here was an opportunity to satisfy the growing interest in all things Asian. This trend was growing in Europe and the East Coast: inspiration for Whistler's Peacock Room, the French painters drawn to "Japonisme" and Louis Comfort Tiffany's Asian-influenced glass designs.

In Gump's San Francisco, Asian art as well as its porcelains, textiles and lacquerware were now featured in its new Asian-themed rooms - the Lotus Room, the Jade Room - just to name two.

Here's a snapshot or two. From early in the 1900s, one of the Asian rooms with bowls and vases on display along with other fine imported goods.

Here's the Gump's main floor with Asian ceramics, including lamps created from classic Asian materials. (The great bronze Japanese Buddha is now in the Japanese Tea Garden of our Golden Gate Park, a gift of the Gump family in honor of A.L. Gump.)

Our tradition of offering the best in Asian design continues through the decades. Note this room designed and assembled with an "Asian Moderne" flair, including a fine example of lamps sold during the 30s and 40s.

We've come full circle. The legacy continues. We at Gump's wish you good lamp light.


James Kjorvestad Read more
RABBITS & BUNNIES: make it a good hare day

RABBITS & BUNNIES: make it a good hare day

Spring is here with this old globe angling us to catch more of the sun. Spring could not have come at a better time. Let's start here by celebrating the plump, perky-eared ones who put a smile on our face.

"Consider the bunny - God's cockeyed creation patently purposed for pure decoration," writes the poet.

We do consider the  bunny, the hare, and the rabbit as Gump's has always cherished artists whose works are well-known to add color and beauty - like Spring itself - to our homes. Not to mention the twinkle in our eye and the knowing smile when observing a cockeyed creation.

Rabbit & Cherry Blossoms by Judi Vaillancourt

"Rabbit & Cherry Blossoms" is a Gump's exclusive from famed artist Judi Vaillancourt. Hand painted details of the Rabbit perched on a half-egg-shaped base covered with cherry blossoms coordinate with another cherry blossom on its tail.

Painted in Massachusetts, Vaillancourt Folk Art was set up in 1984 by Judi, a classically trained artist with a passion for antiques. She combined the Victorian art form known as chalkware with vintage confectionary molds used to form candy, ice cream, and chocolates. Starting with the three antique chocolate molds that her husband, Gary, had given her for Christmas, Judi experimented with how figures could be revived from vintage forms and appeal to our taste for small-scale sculpture.

Vaillancourt's own process developed by pouring liquid chalk into these molds, then applying her fine-art skills to the resulting three dimensional canvas. Considered a contemporary chalkware art, figures like Santas and rabbits were quick to be acquired when featured at Folk Art craft fairs around the country. Gump's is pleased to offer her figures online.


Four Bunnies Hoisting Delft Egg by Judi Vaillancourt


Artist Judi Vaillancourt



 Limoges, France

Vive le lapin!

Is the charm quotient for rabbits and bunnies from Limoges enhanced by the fact that they are hand painted with a Gallic eye that endows them with French allure? Judge for yourself!

Bunnies on Carrot, Limoges, France


The Carrot opens to reveal a version of the Lover's Knot.

Miniature masterpieces, Limoges boxes known as bonbonnieres are treasures to be touched. These charming hinged containers derive from an earlier snuff box tradition and later were a decorative enclosure for little sweets and other bibelots.

Limoges porcelain dates back to the late 18th century. The kaolin clay found in the region made Limoges one of the important centers for making hard-paste porcelain, which is fired at high temperature and a luminous finish results, perfect for decoration, Capitalizing on the availability of the kaolin clay, boutique porcelain factories opened in the area surrounding Limoges.

At Gump's, we continue a long tradition of offering only the finest examples of this quintessential French art form.



The art of hand painting remains a vibrant tradition in Limoges enhancing the details unique to every creation.

James Kjorvestad Read more

HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU: Our toast to the skill and wit of jewelry designer Anthony Lent

Wandering Eye Ring

The fundamental things that apply and make Anthony Lent's jewelry so wearable and so giftable are the distinctive merging of painstaking craftsmanship with a highly personal vision. His gold and silver surfaces reflect a total commitment to quality. The forms may be classic or idiosyncratic, and are sculpted with style.

Whether you love the allure of fine jewelry as a personal statement, or as a gift that shows your perspicacity, Anthony Lent's collection at Gump's will offer a ring, necklace, or earrings and more to please.



Your choices are varied: the classic look of 18-carat gold Earrings set with diamonds that radiate a star-struck chic.


Or the 18-carat gold and sterling silver Moonface Ring, set with diamond eyes, whose whimsical and benign expression reflects 19th century celestial drawings.



Sculpted of 18-carat yellow gold, what Lent calls his Morpheus Earrings are an elegant combination of tranquil faces and wings shaped into earrings. They are inspired by Morpheus, the ancient god of dreams. They say "Dream and take flight."

(How appropriate for a jeweler that the origin of "Morpheus" comes from the Greek for "form" or "shape.)


Anthony Lent's love of the whimsical emerges in this graceful pendant. In an 18-carat gold setting, it combines a glowing Tahitian pearl with multiple white diamonds on a fanciful base that culminates in a dangling pair of gold legs! A master stroke of design that not only finishes off the pendant but "kicks" its elements into another realm of fancy. Cousin to idiosyncratic Victorian jewelry and other jewels of times past? Going back to Renaissance goldsmithy?




"Tony," as he's widely known, owes his status as a master jeweler to the study of sculpture, glass and metals at the Philadelphia College of Art where he discovered that many of his favorite artists, such as Benvenuto Cellini and Albrecht Durer, were also goldsmiths. Lent went on to further study in Germany, where he immersed himself in the traditions and technologies of European design.

When Anthony Lent returned to the United States, he worked as a jeweler in New York City for fine jewelry houses and also created a unique line of his own. He taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where he was chairman of the Jewelry Design department from 1990-2001

JEWELER ANTHONY LENT with his sons David & Max.

Lent's design studio is near Philadelphia, in an old carriage house where he works with his sons David and Max, fashioning the fine jewelry for women and men that has been his focus for nearly fifty years. With a unique ability to combine - in his own words - sophistication with irreverence, Anthony Lent has found inspiration in sculptural figures, celestial bodies, human faces, and creature both fabled and feared.






James Kjorvestad Read more
THE GEORG JENSEN APPEAL : From Copenhagen to San Francisco and the World

THE GEORG JENSEN APPEAL : From Copenhagen to San Francisco and the World

Feel free to pronounce this Danish silversmithy’s name as “George Jensen,” American style. Gump’s does, too, since Jensen’s extraordinarily pleasing forms and high-quality fabrication are the point. Pronunciation won’t get in the way.


While we relish the Danish pronunciation as well, we’ve been home to Jensen’s notable designs for some time. Gump’s celebrates Jensen’s ability to harmonize with contemporary lifestyles, whether fashioned from precious silver or no-nonsense materials like stainless steel.

Take the company’s move to stainless steel. It’s only enhanced Jensen’s appeal while making good design within reach for many more Gump’s clients.

Bernadotte Bowl


Savor this mirror-polished stainless steel Bowl, originally in sterling silver from designer Sigvard Bernadotte’s original 1930s concept. It’s not every firm that enjoyed such a distinctive and rewarding relationship with a Swedish prince who developed into an influential modernist designer, born Sigvard Oscar Fredrik Bernadotte, Prince Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg, grandson of Queen Victoria.

More to the point, the Bowl is classic Scandinavian design at its most timeless.



2017 saw the introduction of the Cobra collection, exemplified by the sinuous curves and gleaming surfaces of these candlesticks, created for Georg Jensen by award-winning designer Constantin Wortmann. Crafted of stainless steel with a mirror-polish finish. 

  Meet the designer: Constantin Wortmann

Wortmann studied design in Munich, followed by an internship and several freelance design projects for Ingo Maurer. In 1998 he co-founded the design studio Büro für Form with Benjamin Hopf. Numerous international awards and exhibitions confirm the success of the studio which focuses on interior design, industrial design, furniture design and lighting design.






Inspired by the shape of Japanese cherry blossoms in full bloom, this stunning bowl designed by Helle Damkjær is made of stainless steel with an 18-karat gold plated finish.

  Meet the designer: Helle Damkjær

Helle Damkjær has for a number of years created designs for Georg Jensen. The beauty of form that characterizes her work places her firmly within the classic tradition of Danish design with a twist. Helle has a unique feel for functional beauty and simple details while her designs convey an inner harmony. The winner of many design prizes, her Bloom Bowl can be seen in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Helle Damkjær is based in the South of France from where she works internationally.



Was it serendipity or mere coincidence that allowed San Francisco to play a big role in Georg Jensen’s international success? Jensen recognizes its fame grew from early success in the United States, specifically here in San Francisco when Jensen brought his Danish silver to the 1915 World’s Fair, called the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition. Jensen walked away with both a gold medal for original design, and the Grand Prize for silver jewelry. Georg Jensen was naturally encouraged to invest in a larger marketplace than Denmark or Northern Europe.

A. Livingston Gump, “Mr. Gump of Gump’s,” (as he was often called) and his merchants would have noticed this breath of silvery Nordic inspiration. There are competing legends of what happened next: that Gump’s bought many of Georg Jensen’s pieces, including the jewelry. There is also a rumor that William Randolph Hearst – he of the Hearst newspaper chain - purchased the majority of the Georg Jensen works brought from Denmark. Sadly, sources to confirm either legend are thin on the ground.

What is true is that A.L. invested heavily in goods from around the world that were, in a way, an adjunct to the galleries of the Exposition. Also true was Gump’s continuing appreciation of the Georg Jensen collections, represented by Jensen’s decision to advance the company’s “air of luxury” by working with select stores like Gump’s, Neiman Marcus in Dallas, and Chicago’s Marshall Field in the 1950s.

Today, Georg Jensen is still a Gump's tradition, one that we’re happy to share with everyone for the sheer appeal of how the use and appreciation of good design will enhance any environment and elevate your entertaining.

James Kjorvestad Read more