Art Nouveau – New Art – bloomed as the Victorian period ended. It blossomed into graphic art, architecture, jewelry and design in general… and then faded as quickly as it had sprung up, leaving a legacy of nostalgic yearning to the present day, for the graceful, fantastical forms that were produced during this short period between 1895 and 1910.
Across France, Belgium and other countries in Europe, in far-flung Australia and the Americas, examples of Art Nouveau architecture remind us of those heady days when this gentle rebellion prevailed against the mechanical industrial age and its formulaic approach.
Natural themes worked well with the organic forms of Art Nouveau. Nymphs and winged fairies were a great device for showing the naked female form and the idealised graceful curves that worked so well with the sinuous flowing lines of this artistic movement. Flowers and plants, beetles, bugs and winged creatures – especially butterflies and dragonflies – provided limitless possibilities for inclusion, and wound their way into Art Nouveau images and design.
A few examples follow on the next pages, and below.
An Art Nouveau Diamond, Enamel and Pearl Brooch
Sold as Lot 19 by Christie’s at auction in Sale 2061 New York Jewels on 11 December 2008, New York, Rockefeller Center
Price realised USD 6,875 after an estimate of USD 2,000 – USD 4,000
Designed as a seated gold female figure on an old European-cut diamond crescent moon, surrounded by purple, pink and green enamel flowers, suspending a detachable collet-set diamond and freshwater pearl drop, mounted in 18k gold, circa 1900, with French assay mark, (with pendant hoop for suspension).
Image and information on the brooch/pendant courtesy of Christie’s
On the next page… an Art Nouveau brooch and a Russian Art Nouveau ring