Art Nouveau flourished from the late 1890s until the beginning of the First World War. The term was coined from the shop Maison de l’Art Nouveau, owned by Siegfried Bing in Paris; a showcase for the best in modern European and American design. Its influence is evident in jewellery, painting, sculpture, architecture and ceramics. The movement even touched French transport, look no further than the inimitable entrances of Paris metro stations.
Art Nouveau was met by outrage in Paris and London for it’s eroticism. A controversial new look that centered on the sinuous female form and stylized botanical motifs. The Belgians referred to it as the “eel” or “noodle” style in reference to its distinctive swooping lines and supple curves. It is considered the first conscious attempt to develop a modern style as botanical research and Darwin’s Origin of the Species made their impact on the arts. Artists and designers studied the natural world and human form rather than the past as their source of inspiration. Collectors might find themselves pouring water from a jug that resembled a modern equivalent of a page three girl!
Colours were natural, a muted palette of browns, lilacs, sages and mustard was cut through with vibrant blues. The colour scheme became known as ‘greenery valley’.
No overview of Art Nouveau would be complete without mentioning Charles Rene Mackintosh, Aubrey Beardsley and René Lalique; masters in their crafts who left an enduring design legacy.
Below are Art Nouveau inspired pieces. Some are Vintage, though not from the Art Nouveau era. There are many other pieces to be found in this shop, and will rotate here on the front page from time to time.
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