Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Art Noveau Enchantment

Art Noveau is one of my most favoured art styles, the free-flowing shapes and beautifully designed items from this era have an elegant and light quality. Artists from the Art Noveau period are famed for breaking free from the repeated rigidity of earlier eras and they were highly inspired by organic forms, which spurred exciting intertwined designs. These liberated flowing shapes of Art Noveau were a bridge between the old and the new, and lead design into the 20th century.

Staircase, Emile Tassel House, Brussels, Belgium and Art Nouveau female by Alphonse Mucha

The name Art Noveau itself was taken from a gallery called Maison de l'Art Noveau opened in 1895 by Samuel Bing in Paris.

Entrance to Samuel Bing's gallery in Paris

Bing was an experimental art collector and he wanted to defend the applied and decorative arts and started exhibiting the avant-garde work of contemporary artists, such as Camille Claudel, Fernand Khnopff, William Degouves de Nuncques, Edward Munch, Auguste Rodin, Victor Rousseau, Paul Signac, Louis Comfort Tiffany and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, amongst others. As Art Noveau spread throughout Europe, the style took on country specific names: Jugend in Germany, Arte joven in Spain, Arte nuova in Italy and Nieuwe kunst in the Netherlands.

Other noted artists and designers of this era are Gustav Klimt, Charles Rennie Macintosh. Alphonse Mucha and Rene Lalique. In the
UK, the style of Art Noveau was spurred by the Arts and Crafts Movement. Artists such as Aubrey Beardsley commanded the form of Art Noveau in excellence and his delicate patterned drawings contain many of the characteristics of this era.

Images from 'La Morte D’Arthur and Venus from 'The Yellow Book'

Beardsley's stunning cover to 'Salome - a tragedy in one act'

The free flowing organic shapes of Art Noveau can be found in objects at Alfies such as this beautiful mirror with silver mounted frame, Birmingham 1906,
and the magnifying glasses, all from Goldsmith & Perris

From left to right:
Ivory handle and silver bands, Sheffield 1897

Silver handle, Sheffield 1905
Mother of pearl and silver plated, ca 1900

This ornate silver card case, made in Birmingham 1900, shows the organic shapes of Art Noveau, also from Goldsmith & Perris

Floral patterned glass inkwell with silver overlay, ca 1900, from Magna Carta Antiques

A slightly more stylistic interpretation of the organic design can be seen in this Liberty pewter fruit bowl with new liner. Designed by Archibald Knox, ca 1905 from Robinson Antiques

Women’s accessories took on new shapes and designs when the organic forms of Art Noveau were coupled with jewellery, like this French Art Nouveau 18 ct gold heart locket with rose cut diamonds, from Pari’s jewellery.

Other exciting new shapes were these six silver buttons with Art Nouveau ladies, complete with box, hallmarked 1908, from Connie Speight, they show the beauty, elegance and flowing forms of the era.

Or this English evening clasp bag made with painted mesh and nouveau frame, from Sheila Cameron

In its heyday, Art Noveau became more than the aesthetics of art and design, it became a life style where freedom and elegance was incorporated into daily life. Live by this motto and find exquisite items at Alfies to enrich you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is incredible!
Thanks for the information - Art Noveau is something I really connect with. I'm just diving into it further!!

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