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James' Art Nouveau Section

A Brief Overview

Art Nouveau refers to the "new" art that was produced during the two decades preceding and following the turn-of-the-century. Sigfried Bing, a dynamic German-born Parisian and patron of the arts, is credited with providing the name for this movement. In 1900, he opened a shop called "L'Art Nouveau Bing," that eventually became identified not only with the emerging style that broke with academic tradition but also with the international decorative arts movement which it espoused.

Nowhere was the style of Art Nouveau more pronounced than in France, and no name more recognisable than that of René Lalique. Trained as a jeweler, Ren?Lalique opened his atelier in Paris in 1895. His avant-garde designs were sought after by tout de Paris, and his most famous client was Sarah Bernhardt, the diminutive tragic actress who exemplified the Art Nouveau woman. Heralded as the finest and most innovative jewelry designer at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, Lalique never stopped experimenting and learning. In 1907, he began to work in an entirely different art form--designing glass perfume bottles--at the request of his good friend François Coty. In 1912, at the age of 50, Lalique opened his first glass factory and began to produce perfume vials, tableware, vases, lamps and all types of objects for a lady's boudoir.

One of the most important examples of Lalique's work ever to appear at auction is a rare jewelry box of molded amber glass, horn and wood in the form of a cicada. Using common materials to fashion a utilitarian object, Lalique elevates this jewelry box beyond the mundane through a mastery of workmanship, design and artistry.

Another rarity is the Tourbillons vase in brilliant turquoise. This vase is found in yellow or in clear glass with black enamel decoration. This is the only known example in this rare color. Tourbillons or Whirlwind was introduced in 1925 and first exhibited at the Exposition des Art Décoratif et Industriels Modernes, Paris. In this vase Lalique has clearly embraced the highly geometric style of the Jazz Age.

Lalique's work was all but forgotten in the three decades following his death in 1945. It was not until the 1970s that collectors and connoisseurs began to "rediscover" his oeuvre and appreciate his technical mastery and creative designs. Today, fifty years after his death, Lalique's designs continue to have an enormous impact upon the decorative arts.
In America, the Art Nouveau movement is synonymous with Louis Comfort Tiffany. He made a name for himself with the production of some very fine glassware, stained glass, picture frames, trinket boxes, perfume botttles and jewelry.
A splendid example of his work is this Tiffany favrile glass and bronze peacock lamp on a rare peacock blue ceramic base, circa 1900. The base is the only known example incorporating peacock blue glass blown between the large feathered plume supporters.

Other important designers and manufacturers of the Art Nouveau period include William Morris (known also for his contribution to the Arts and crafts movement which preceeded Art Nouveau), George Fouquet, who designed a wrap snake bracelet for Sarah bernhardt and Alphonse Mucha, famous for his sinuewy flowing-haired female figures. Other painters of the time include Henrie Toulouse Lautrec and Aubrey Beardsley. George Jensen of Denmark was highly acclaimed for his Art Nouveau work in silver, and Phillipe Wolfers from Belgium was similarly recognised for his designs in jewelry.

My Art Nouveau Links

The Art Nouveau world wide web server. Plenty of general information here and some good links to individual artists too.

A site dedicated to Gallé. Across the channel at the turn of the century, Emile Gallé was crafting his own vision of Art Nouveau. A master craftsman in glass, he is the most well-known and collectable producer of French Art Glass. It is his pieces from 1889 onwards for which he is best known. These made greater use of mottled and striated glass or of his own marquetrie de verre process, whereby fragments of hot coloured glass are pressed into the body of the vessel and then rolled in. carving is then done on a wheel once the vessel has cooled.

A nice site this. Well thought out, and providing a good introduction to the background as well as the works of some of the most important artists of the period. Focuses mainly on Art Nouveau glassware.

Here is a link to a Charles Rennie Mackintosh site. He was an Architect-designer and put Glasgow on the map with the formation of the Glasgow School, along with other local artists around the turn of the Century. His work can be seen around the city in the shape of many historical buildings, and his designs and architectural works are still a source of inspiration for many modern designs of today.

Descover a bit more about the background to the period, the archetectural styles and how it developed. This site also explores Art Nouveau from a geographical standpoint.