Introduction of Art Nouveau

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  • Topic: Art Nouveau, Alphonse Mucha, Art
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Introduction to Art Nouveau

The "Art Nouveau" ("new art") movement was one of the first departures from classical art and design, towards a new modernism. The 'Modernism' and Art Nouveau movements occurred during what was known in France as the "Belle Époque," or "beautiful era" period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement was primarily influenced by the radical work of Czech (Moravian) artist Alfons Mucha, Swiss decorative artist Eugène Grasset, and English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley ("The Peacock Skirt”) and the ground-breaking architecture and design work of Hector Guimard of Paris and Antoni Gaudí of Barcelona.

The Art Nouveau movement focussed heavily on the themes of nature, fantasy, and the female form, with sensual flowing shapes that simulate organic growth that is reminiscent of the primeval Garden of Eden.

Exotic floral motifs with animals, birds, butterfles, dragonflies, peacock feathers and marsh plants were incorporated with graceful feminine imagery or fairies, mermaids and nymphs, complete with their long manes of twisting hair. Some of the floral motifs that were used in the Art Nouveau style were borrowed from English artist William Morris' 'Arts and Crafts Movement' of the late Victorian era.

Jewellery from Art Nouveau Period

Jewellery of the Art Nouveau period revitalised the jeweller's art, with nature as the principal source of inspiration, complemented by new levels of virtuosity in enamelling and the introduction of new materials, such as opals and semi-precious stones. The widespread interest in Japanese art and the more specialised enthusiasm for Japanese metalworking skills fostered new themes and approaches to ornament.

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For the previous two centuries, the emphasis in fine jewellery had been on gemstones, particularly on the diamond, and the jeweller or goldsmith had been principally concerned with providing settings for their advantage. With Art Nouveau, a different type of jewellery emerged, motivated by the artist-designer rather than the jeweller as setter of precious stones.

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The jewellers of Paris and Brussels defined Art Nouveau in jewellery, and in these cities it achieved the most renown. Contemporary French critics were united in acknowledging that jewellery was undergoing a radical transformation, and that the French designer-jeweller-glassmaker René Lalique was at its heart. Lalique glorified nature in jewellery, extending the repertoire to include new aspects of nature—such as dragonflies or grasses—inspired by his encounter with Japanese art.

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Dragonfly by Rene lalique

The jewellers were keen to establish the new style in a noble tradition, and for this they looked back to the Renaissance, with its works of sculpted and enamelled gold, and its acceptance of jewellers as artists rather than craftsmen. In most of the enamelled work of the period, precious stones receded. Diamonds were usually given subsidiary roles, used alongside less familiar materials such as moulded glass, horn and ivory.

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Jewellery designers such as Georges Fouquet and Lucien Gautrait, as well as glass designers Louis Comfort Tiffany and René Lalique combined Japanese motifs with popular natural elements to create elaborate Art Nouveau jewelry designs.

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Viennese jeweller Frey Wille has created a series of enamel jewelry commemorating Mucha's theatre placard artwork of Sarah Bernhardt in their "Hommage à Alphonse Mucha" line.

ART NOUVEAU JEWELRY

sensous,feminine and organic

Jewelry was one of the purest, and most successful, expressions of Art Nouveau style, using sensuous organic forms to create a vast range of objects of exceptional beauty and inventiveness.

In 1893, greatly influenced by the ideas of William MORRIS, a young Belgian Architect Victor HORTA, began to plan the first important...
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