Art Nouveau Furniture

The Art Nouveau “New Art” period began in France in the 1880s, taking inspiration from “the unruly aspects of the natural world”, and profoundly influenced art and architecture until the First World War.  Art Nouveau began as rebellion against mass production, for the artists and furniture designers of the period championed bringing the highest standards of craftsmanship to everyday objects. The movement is recognized by the use stylized flowers, leaves, and other naturalistic elements. The artists and craftsman intended on drawing inspiration from their surroundings, not past movements or traditions. Designers such as Louis Majorelle avoided angular lines and instead favored the dramatic whiplash curves and graceful, sinuous lines in their works.

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Pair of Antique Royal Dux Ceramic Art Nouveau Figural Vases

The Art Nouveau period represents the beginning of modernism in design.  While a short-lived movement, it was also groundbreaking and controversial, for it was truly international and inclusive of  all the visual arts, including furniture and architecture. Art Nouveau is mostly associated with France, for its introduction to the public was at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. However cabinetmakers such as Louis Majorelle, architect and designer of the Paris Metro Hector Guimard, and artist Alphonse Mucha brought worldwide attention to Art Nouveau movement.

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Beautiful two-tier inlaid Art Nouveau side table by Emile Gallé.

French Art Nouveau furniture often took its motifs from plant life and the human female form. The wood carving and bronze hardware generally matched each other in terms of motif, very naturalistic and three-dimensional. The more common of these motifs were vintage patterns (grapes and grape leaves), flowers (ombelles, roses, daisies, irises etc), ivy and berries. This furniture was generally constructed of walnut or mahogany, sometimes with panels of burl, and with oak as the secondary wood. It was occasionally embellished with wrought iron or stained glass or marquetry. Over the years, Antiquarian Traders has provided its customers a wealth of Art Nouveau furniture, for dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms and offices. Works by Majorelle, Galle, Jallot, Diot, Dumas, among many others, have passed through our hands, as well as many pieces of fine design and quality which were neither signed nor otherwise documented.

1313THE ARTS – “PAINTING” Art Nouveau print by Alphonse Mucha.

Many artists, designers, and architects were excited by new technologies and lifestyles, while others retreated into the past, embracing the spirit world, fantasy, and myth.