Marie Zimmermann

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Marie Zimmermann (17 June 1879 - 17 June 1972) was an American designer and maker of jewelry and metalwork.[1] Marie Zimmerman is noted for fine craftsmanship and innovative design in a variety of different mediums and styles. Calling herself “a craftsman” rather than an artist, Zimmerman was inspired by Cellini and Michelangelo to master and employ many different crafts in her work such as metalsmithing, carving, painting, and sculpting.[2] Marie Zimmerman created in many different styles, and her work cannot be confined to one artistic movement.[1] A 1926 article in the Brooklyn Eagle by Harriette Ashbrook called her “perhaps the most versatile artist in the country”.[2]

Life and career[edit]

The daughter of prosperous Swiss immigrants, Marie Zimmermann was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She was educated at the Packer Collegiate Institute, Art Students’ League and Pratt Institute Pratt Institute. Over a period of twenty-five years, Zimmerman worked to master all of the different crafts she wanted to use in her pieces. During this period she would work ten to twelve hours a day.[2] She lived and ran her studio at the National Arts Club in New York from about 1910 to 1937.

Zimmermann designed metalwork in a wide range of media (gold, silver, bronze, copper and iron) and jewelry, as well as some furniture. Much of her eclectic work was inspired by diverse historical precedents, including ancient Egyptian, Classical and Chinese forms. She experimented freely with materials, surface, color and applied ornament.

Many of the pieces Zimmerman created were useful as well as decorative. One example, a candlestick with an electric light in the back, combined elegance with utility. The electric light would provide enough illumination for people to see, and the candles would provide atmosphere.[3] Zimmerman used many of her own pieces in her own home and therefore knew the work from the client/user’s perspective as well as the maker/designer’s.[1]

Marie Zimmerman always designed her pieces, but hired six workers to help her in their creation. She trained these assistants herself.[2]

In 1940, Marie Zimmerman closed her studio and retired. Her whole family had died during a span of five years. The government was also urging her to do better bookkeeping, especially in regards to the valuable materials she was using.[4]

The Marie Zimmermann Farm was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[5]

Awards and Recognition[edit]

Marie Zimmerman won the Logan Prize for Jewelry and Silverware from an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1924.[1]


After her retirement, Zimmerman lost some of her public recognition. In the 1980s, her nephew decided to continue her legacy by putting her art into various museums. Around this time a book was published by the American Decorative Arts 1900 Foundation entitled The Jewelry and Metalwork of Marie Zimmerman, and the foundation Friends of Marie Zimmerman was formed.[6]

Museum collections[edit]

Works by Marie Zimmermann are included in the collections of the Columbus Museum, Georgia (the Persian Box, in silver and ivory with applied lapis lazuli, pearls, jade and malachite), the Art Institute of Chicago, Carnegie Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Museum of Fine Arts-Boston and Wolfsonian-FIU.


Marie Zimmermamnn's life and work are covered in the monographic book The Jewelry and Metalwork of Marie Zimmermann (Yale University Press, ISBN 9780300181142).


  1. ^ a b c d The Ganoksin Project. "[Ganoksin] Marie Zimmermann - From Tiaras to Tombstones". Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ashbrooke, Harriette (6 June 1926). [<>. "Woman Master of a Dozen Crafts"] Check |url= value (help). The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Retrieved 5 March 2017. 
  3. ^ Edgerton, Giles (February 1922). [<>. "An American Worker in the Crafts"] Check |url= value (help). House & Garden. Retrieved 5 March 2017. 
  4. ^ "Friends of Marie Zimmermann". Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  5. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  6. ^ "Friends of Marie Zimmermann". Retrieved 2017-03-11.