The Unger Brothers Company is an example of moving well-crafted everyday items into high-end art. Their exquisite Art Nouveau pieces became legendary and can be seen in many museums, even in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When it came to anything from toiletries to cufflinks, the Unger Brothers helped define the standard in Art Nouveau style and silver pieces.
The Unger family were German immigrants who settled in Newark, NJ. The eldest son, Herman, founded a jewelry company in 1870 and immediately started manufacturing sterling silver items. Although all five Unger brothers would join the company, three passed away in 1879 leaving Herman and Eugene Unger to continue the business. The two brothers each had a specialized skill, Herman with silversmithing and Eugene with engraving, would prosper into legends of the Art Nouveau movement.
The Unger Brothers Company was lauded for its products due to their originality and intricate designs. Herman and Eugene truly understood the elements of Art Nouveau, such as undulating lines, interlaced patterns, scrolls, and an almost musical rhythm. In museums, you’ll notice many of their boudoir lines and dining pieces, and their cufflinks were as intricate and awe-inspiring as anything else they made.
The designs of all their wears included mermaids, women haloed with flowers, stylized animals, and patterns that danced across one’s eyes. Every piece seemed to be gallery-worthy and embodied a style reserved for the divine. It is no wonder that Unger Brothers cufflinks and other items are sought after by antique aficionados around the world.
With the Unger Brothers’ items, nothing was left a blank canvas. Every inch was weaved with meticulous landscapes that manifested the essence of Art Nouveau and illustrated what silversmithing could be. For example, take a gander at these exquisite mermaid cufflinks. The curves of the water encircle the captivating mermaid, further reinforcing why the Unger Brothers’ many silver pieces lay in museums across the globe.
Many artists and companies capitalized on the New Art’s popularity while others enjoyed the freedom of what was then the modern style. The Unger Brothers Company not only enjoyed the new era and profited from it, but contributed substantially while helping to define it. This company has earned permanent residence in any great museum.
Welcome to the Missing Link, unearthed.