Art Nouveau – the new modern era
It’s a style that’s rarely out of fashion and it’s a beautiful one. James Hawkins explains its history
The term Art Nouveau was first used in the Belgian journal L’Art Modern to describe art work by Les Vingt [a Belgian art group]. The term was then popularised by Parisian art gallery Maison de l’art (House of New Art) opened in 1895 by the Franco-German art dealer Siegfried Bing.
The style depicts an international modernist neoclassical art style popular throughout Europe between 1880 – 1910. These identifying styles developed within their own nations.
The French often referred to the style as Guimard after the architect who designed the Paris Metro system’s iron and glass subway entrances. However the modernist movement was described by many names in various European countries. In Belgium it was referred to as style coup de fouet (whiplash style) and as jugendstil (youth style) in German.
Italy was influenced by the designs of London’s Liberty and Co store and was referred to as liberty style or stile floreale (floral style), arts and crafts or modern style in Britain, but they are all now more commonly grouped together and referred to as Art Nouveau.
The Art Nouveau style was inspired by natural forms, preRaphaelite nymphs, sinuous asymmetrical whiplash curves and flora and fauna motifs. It embraced new age materials in the form of modern ceramics, enamelling and gemstones incorporated within platinum and white gold but a strong favourite was always setting diamonds into these elaborate designs.
At the world trade fair Exposition Universal, held in Paris in 1900, the height of the movement witnessed jewellery exhibitors such as the preeminent European jewellers Henri Vever, Philippe Wolfers, Rene Lalique, Louis Comfort Tiffany and George Fouquet who opened his new shop at 6 Rue Royale to coincide with the opening of the Grand Palais main hall.
Here at Juels’ Limited we have a large collection of Art Nouveau jewellery. One such item is this inspiring asymmetrical curved fauna foliate motif diamond pendant set in 18k white gold and incorporating approximately 1.5ct of transition cut diamonds, often referred to as European cut diamonds.
The pendant is suspended by a diamond bale and is typical of the curved natural forms synonymous with the period.
We are always seeking to increase our jewellery collection therefore if anyone has any period jewellery that they may want to sell, trade in or have valued, contact James Hawkins or any member of staff as we are always eager to assist.
This column is sponsored by Juels’ Limited, Royal Arcade, Norwich. juelslimited.co.uk juel[email protected] 01603 666373
ABOVE: The iconic Paris Metro style
BELOW: A beautiful pendant from Juels