Art Nouveau… did it ever go out of fashion?
In a regular column for Christie’s, Meredith Etherington-Smith talks about why Art Nouveau is all the rage again. Her article, ”Antenna: Why Art Nouveau is back in vogue”, does a quick overview of the nature-inspired Art Nouveau style – the hottest new design style of the early 20th century.
With a bold detail image of two Lalique pieces from the jewelry sale to come, Etherington-Smith makes her point. They are both glass, gold and gem pieces by Rene Lalique (details below). She explains that Lalique made jewelry for Sarah Bernhardt to wear on stage.
Where Sarah Bernhardt led, intellectual aristocrats and society women followed. They wore Lalique’s jewels with free-flowing velvets rather than the tight corsets, picture hats and hourglass silhouettes of their less avant-garde contemporaries. In 1900, the Paris Exposition would spread this new look to a wide international audience.
Art Nouveau has had more than one revival since the 1920s. The Surrealists, especially Salvador Dalí, loved Art Nouveau, and brought it back to life in the 1930s; another resurgence followed in the early 1970s. Now, it seems, we’re due for one more, as part of the newly modish natural aesthetic that looks so modern in our emerging post-minimalist world.
Left: an Art Nouveau diamond, enamel and glass ‘hawthorn’ brooch, by René Lalique, 1899-1901, 8.5 cm. Estimate: CHF 90,000-130,000.
Right: an Art Nouveau enamel and diamond ‘wasp’ pendant/brooch, by René Lalique, circa 1906, pendant 9.0 cm, chain 54.0 cm. Estimate: CHF 60,000-80,000. These lots are offered in Beyond Boundaries: Magnificent Jewels from a European Collection on 13 November 2017 at Christie’s in Geneva.
(Image credit – Christies)
On the next pages are a few more of the Art Nouveau pieces up for auction in the November sale.