|René Lalique, French, 1860 - 1945|
Dragonfly woman corsage ornament, 1897 - 1898
gold, enamel, chrysoprase, moonstones, and diamonds, 23 x 26.5 (9 x 10 3/8)
|ELLA NAPER 1886-1972 Lily-pad Hair Combs Green-tinted horn, with moonstone
Length: 9 cm Width: 6.8 cm
English. Circa 1906
Art Nouveau ("New Art") was one of the first departures from classical art and design, towards a new modernism and it took placefrom the 1880s until world War I . This avant-garde movement was centred in Western Europe and occurred in France during what was known as the "La Belle Epoque" period, or "beautiful era" of the late 19th and 20th centuries. In Germany the Art Nouveau movement was known as the " Jugendstil," or :"youth style" arts and crafts movement, in Spain the movement was called Modermismo and in Austria Sezessionstil. It was a reaction against the historical and academic emphasis of the19th century although it did not survive World War I.
Art Nouveau was not only a style but it was a thought of modern society and and the various production methods. It was an effort to define the significance and temperament of the work of art.
Art Nouveau stressed hand crafting as divergent to mechanized form of production. This decorative art movement placed emphasis on the idea of functional art and encouraged making everyday items into artwork.
Art Nouveau was considered a “total style” as it influenced a broad spectrum of design: these included architecture, interior design, decorative arts, textiles, printing and illustration, lighting, painting,household silverware ,furniture, jewellery as well as a wide range of other visual arts.
The specific ornamental characteristics of Art Nouveau included organic figures, and curved , asymetrical, undulating lines, that were often taking the form of flower stalks and buds, insect wings, vine tendrils and other sinuous and delicate natural objects. Floral patterns and leaves were also widely used. Some of the floral motifs that were used were borrowed from English artist William Morris, founder of the “Art and Crafts Movement” of the late Victorian era. Other common themes included stylized, curvaceous and graceful images of women, sometimes depicted as mermaids, nymphs and fairies complete with long manes of twisting hair. . Animals and birds, bees, butterflies, dragonflies also made an appearance in the movement's imagery and often these creatures were incorporated into jewellery pieces such as necklaces and brooches. The colours used were often bright and clearly defined.
What the designers of this period had in common was an interest in finding a new artistic vocabulary that could best describe and express the modern world. They found their greatest inspiration in nature – not necessarily nature's beauty - but instead it's never changing life cycle of birth, life, decay and death.
Jewellery was one of the purest, and most successful expressions of Art Nouveau style, using sensuous lines and organic forms to create a vast range of exceptional beauty and inventiveness. The Art Nouveau jewellers experimented with new forms, materials and techniques focusing more on the originality and beauty of the piece not only the intrinsic value of the materials used. Jewellery made from wood, bone, and brass became popular and enamelling was was extensively used. The best examples of Art Nouveau jewellery in my opinion would be the pieces created by Rene Lalique who was recognized as one of France's foremost Art nouveau jewellery designers and went onto be the most famous in his field, his name synonymous with creativity and quality.