Art Nouveau 1890 – 1914
The Art Nouveau or ‘New Art’ movement heralded perhaps one of the most exciting departures from mainstream fashion in the history of the creative arts. In many ways Art Nouveau was a response to the Industrial Revolution.
A wave of technological progress had spread across Western Europe, embracing the aesthetic possibilities of new materials using machines that could produce and reproduce to extravagantly high degrees of precision, and even more important, opening a commercial market for the masses. It was a time when ordinary people could expect to own things, and how better to celebrate than through the ownership of art, textiles and jewellery.
Jewellery was one of the most successful, and the purest expression of the Art Nouveau style. It was sensuous, organic, and inventive. The joy for the freedom of expression quickly took hold and in Paris, Belgium and London collections of jewellery went on display characterised by a sense of freedom.
It was a Frenchman, Siegfried Bing who opened the first Gallery in Paris displaying Art Nouveau. Tiffany designed glassware, jewellery and ceramics, and was soon joined by artisans such as Louis Bonnier, Frank Brangwyn and Edouard Viuillard, whilst our own William Morris displayed his furnishings. The world of fashion soon picked up the ‘new look’ and copies went on sale throughout Europe.
Items of fine jewellery, often shaped in the flowing signature of the S curve, became the rage, everyone wanted to own a brooch, or pair of earrings made in the ‘new style’. Necklaces were produced with beautifully crafted pendants, designed to make the center piece of an outfit, hair combs and hatpins became essential and extravagant ornamental additions to hats and elaborate hairstyles, belt buckles, tiaras, diadems and theatrical headpieces gave a freedom to artists and wearer, giving full rein to the imagination and creative talents.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the new age in jewellery making was the materials used. Apart from the traditional and expensive silver, gold and diamonds which really were confined to the rich, ordinary people could now buy exquisite pieces crafted from semi precious stones such as moonstones. Opal, coral, mother of pearl, freshwater pearls, tortoise shell, ivory and horn, but also copper, crystal and carved glass. Perhaps the most distinctive and inspiring work came from the new and exciting use of enameling techniques.
Craftsmen using gold wire to form partitions into which coloured enamel is poured produced elaborate and colourful designs of flowers, butterflies and even colourful insects. Whilst the early Egyptians began the art of enameling, it was perfected by the Russian Jeweller Karl Faberge, and examples of his work are on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The freedom of expression which characterised the Art Nouveau movement is a feature of today’s fashion. Individuals still enjoy expressing themselves through jewellery. With the wonderful range of subtle or expressive reproductions designed and crafted by our team, you can compliment any outfit.
Choose from our magnificent range of rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelet’s, and enjoy a whole new look celebrating the artistic freedom first enjoyed by the innovative artists of the early 20th century.