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Art nouveau was an international philosophy and style design that arose in the turn of the twentieth century. The literal meaning is "new art".
Between 1890 and 1910 it was one of the most popular forms of architecture and applied art in Europe. Many would incorporate this style into their homes, furniture, fashion, art and jewelry.
The organic forms and structures of art nouveau mirrored those found in elements like flowers, plants and curved lines. This style makes many of its references to the nature world. Some would even describe it to be fanciful and out of the ordinary.
Art nouveau was eventually replaced by the 20th century modernist style. Ever since then, there hasn't been any other style that's come close to art nouveau, especially when it comes to jewelry.
Lucien Gaillard The love of the modern, which was central to this artistic movement, gave rise to sinuous, harmonious forms in both the decorative arts and architecture, with a distinctive iconography made up of fantastic, dream-like and sensual elements. For the first time, in Art Nouveau, jewelry was conceived as a vehicle for artistic expression, an art form in its own right. Jewelry, in fact, became a work of art.
The representation of flower has a special place in Art Nouveau jewelry. Gardens, woodlands scenes and detail of a single flower become a dazzling miracle of color and form. The precision of the basse-taille enamels endows the textures with a fragile, sensual delicacy. The result is a masterpiece with echoes of a midsummer night&apos;s dream. The recreation of a dream-world whose inhabitants are transformed into fantastic, quasi-mythological beings was one of the goals of Art Nouveau.
Swans, snails, snakes and birds take their place in a fascinating world, thanks to the subtle polychromatic enamels and the variety of precious stones which are used in their design. This is the animal world as seen from a hitherto undreamed-of perspective. Enamel, which involves one of the most ancient artistic techniques, and can be traced back to ancient Egypt, takes on a unique dimension in Art Nouveau jewelry
Art Nouveau is remarkable for its references to Nature, both the animal and the planet world. Hundreds of different flowers, types of foliage and petals coexist with insects, birds, frogs, swans and dragons in a fantastic dream-world: the world of Art Nouveau, where woman is often magically fussed with the natural world to produce the woman-insect and the woman-flower. These elements are to be found in all kinds of pieces, from the now classic brooches, pendants, bracelets and chokers to the pins, earrings, combs and hair bands, as well as in items from the men&apos;s jewelry range, such as cuff links and tie-pins.
Art nouveau was an international philosophy and style design that arose in the turn of the twentieth century. The literal meaning is &quot;new art&quot;.Between 1890 and 1910 it was one of the most popular forms of architecture and applied art in Europe. Many would incorporate this style into their homes, furniture, fashion, art and jewelry.The organic forms and structures of art nouveau mirrored those found in elements like flowers, plants and curved lines. This style makes many of its references to the nature world. Some would even describe it to be fanciful and out of the ordinary.Art nouveau was eventually replaced by the 20th century modernist style. Ever since then, there hasn&apos;t been any other style that&apos;s come close to art nouveau, especially when it comes to jewelry.
The Beauty of Art Nouveau Jewelry Art Nouveau Jewelry would be considered more expressive with the designs. They are very decorative and ornate; commonly featuring elements such as flowers, vines, leaves, insects, animals, mythical beasts and enchanted women.It uses a lot of smooth flowing lines and gentle curves. The pieces tend to be pale in color and would predominantly use warm earth tones.Art nouveau jewelry materials would consist of copper, brass, silver, gold, platinum, pearls, gems, glass, and diamonds. Expensive art nouveau jewelry would typically be made of the more costly materials.
&quot;A new, imperishable beauty,&quot; was how the artist and architect Henry van de Velde described it. European Art Nouveau jewelry of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries embraced a new aesthetic characterized by sensuous forms, dramatic imagery and vivid symbolism. Many of the designers associated with the movement sought their inspiration not in traditional jewelry, but in the work of the pre-Raphaelites and Impressionists and in the arts of Japan. Rejecting the rigid naturalism typical of European decorative arts, designers such as Ren Lalique and Henry van de Velde, and the artists of the German Jugenstil and Austrian Wiener Sezession movements, created ornaments that expressed the spirit and freedom of the era. These artists and designers adopted a free-flowing line and asymmetrical format that invigorated their work and set it apart, while their use of natural motifs and of the female form imbued their creations with energy, sensuality and dreamy mysticism. But underlying the undeniable exuberance of these works was a fin-de-sicle edginess that endows this period with inexhaustible fascination.&quot;
Exuberant, exotic, emotive, expressive, are terms used to describe Art Nouveau jewelry. What is it about Art Nouveau jewelry that touches the hearts of sophisticates, critical collectors, or just the average consumer? It is the beauty that is felt when one views the great works of someone like Renoir, or Gauguin. Many pieces of Art Nouveau jewelry are truly works of art, not merely items of adornment. Some of the ingredients that make Art Nouveau jewelry so emotionally beautiful are the use of subtle color and shading, suggestion of form, delicate turning and mystical imagery. Appreciation of Art Nouveau takes time. The more one views them, the more apparent their intrinsic beauty becomes. They are imaginative pieces, daring and different from other styles and forms.
The Art Nouveau movement, although short lived (approximately 1890 through 1910) made a lasting impact on the jewelry industry which is still felt today. It was a reaction to the mass produced jewelry that had become so popular late in the Victorian period. The style of Art Nouveau jewelry was a radical change from the somberness and adherence to strict rules which characterized both French and English jewellery in the 1860&apos;s and 1870&apos;s. There were few restrictions in the design of Nouveau jewelry. The most common motifs incorporated life forms, orchids, lilies, irises, ferns, snakes, dragonflies, animal and human forms. Life-like to dream-like simplicity of metal alone to the complexity of enamel and precious gems. The rebellion against the strict customs of the Victorian and Edwardian periods released an incredible out-pouring of creative energy that not only produced pieces of subtle beauty but also touched the sublime and the mystical. No longer would a piece of jewelry be a mere adornment, now it became a part of one&apos;s soul.
“Imperishable Beauty: Art Nouveau Jewelry” has opened at the Torf Gallery of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and it is a lovely, delicate exhibition. While these things may have been jewelry when they were first made, they are works of art now, and have every right to be in a museum. The Art Nouveau movement did not span many decades (two and a half, three at the most), but its lines -- or curves, to be more accurate -- are with us still. The idea behind the movement was to get away from the Edwardian (whites and diamonds) and Arts and Crafts (blocky and solid) ways of looking at the world. The jewelry in this exhibit, most of which are on generous loan from a collector couple who wish to remain anonymous (probably because if the females of their families knew they had these pieces there would be alot of requests for the borrowing of them), express the ideals of the movement in intensely artistic craft. They are delicate, and delicately colored, and curvy and flowing and naturalistic. A number of the pieces are René Lalique’s, who might be better known for his glass work. There is his hair comb, for example, made with gold, enamel, sapphire, and horn. It the curvy-ness that gets you, and the way the blue of the enamel reflects the blue of the sapphire. I’m sure everyone will have their own opinion, but to me it looked like a stylized lick of fire, curling around on itself with newer licks veering away from the original.
Our own Louis Comfort Tiffany is here, too, both in jewelry and in his more well-known lampware. One of the things that strikes you is the amount of color found in almost every piece. After the whiteness of the Edwardians, the Art Nouveau-ists found that colored gemstones - topazes, emeralds, sapphires, tourmalines - only half-satisfied their need to show the natural world in their designs. The other half was satisfied with enameling. There were three types of enamelling used during this time, and the most astonishing type is plique-à-jour, or “open to the light” technique. This involved placing metal partitions between the enamels, but not behind/underneath it. The enamel, which in its beginning form is a powder, is carefully added to the various areas, is then heated to melt the powder. And this is done again and again and again until the desired depth and color is achieved. These pieces are like stained glass, you can see through the color. The nice thing about this exhibit is that everything is in cases, and so if you really really realy wanted to see this plique-à-jour up close, you can press your nose up against the case and the alarms won’t go off (I checked -- although it seemed to startle the exhibition’s staff...)
Art Nouveau focused on the three Fs: Flora, fauna, and females. The flora were mostly orchids, the fauna were mostly scary creatures made pretty(ish), and the women were mostly stylized goddesses (women suffrage was going on, rather make one up than have a real one shout at you about the vote and then not make you your dinner). I don’t know what was going on in the world -- perhaps there a lot of expeditions to far flung places to discover and name new versions of old things - but these men (and funnily enough most Art Nouveau artists were men) seemed to have a predilection for scarabs and snakes. Luckily, there are no delicately-wrought pieces representing the dung beetle here (perhaps they hadn’t been discovered yet).
However, the two dragonfly brooches, whose wingspans are as wide as your hand is high, are as pretty in jewelry as they are in nature. Yvonne Markowitz, a long-time research fellow at the MFA and now the very first curator of Jewelry, has done a remarkable job in locating these pieces and organizing this exhibit. The exhibit is a little bit about history, a little bit about politics, and a lot about jewelry. It’s a wonderful, wonderful show, and if you can appreciate art, you can appreciate these pieces. I highly recommend it. - Text and Photos by Carolyn Donovan
Called the bluebird comb, it was done by Lucien Galliard, c.1900. Three dark and light blue enamel and gold bluebirds have diamond eyes and soar through pale blue and white plique-à-jour enamel clouds. The stars are made from old-cut diamonds. Lucien Gaillard employed Japanese craftsmen in order to create jewelry for the 1900 Paris Exposition. When Lalique saw his collection, he told Gaillard to focus on that area. Following the Exhibition, Galliard’s Japanese craftsman created unique pieces such as the Bluebird Comb, even though he put his own signature on them. Price estimate: $100,000 – $150,000.
Although he is now less well-known than Lalique, Vever and Fouquet, Lucien Gaillard was one of the greatest jewellery designers of his time. This relative oblivion can be explained by the fact that his original production that was briefer and less spectacular than that of his more famous fellow craftsmen. Gaillard excelled in the use of horn. This choice puts him in the lineage of Lalique who was the first to prefer horn to the traditional tortoiseshell. This comb illustrates the artist&apos;s pronounced taste for humble plant species. In his work there are no human figures, or combinations of motifs taken from flora and fauna. Nor are women&apos;s faces and bodies entwined with vegetable arabesques. A single motif is sufficient for each piece of jewellery. He applied the lessons of Japanese art to his studies. The hawthorn leaves and blossom are seen globally, with only their general characteristics. They are naturalistic but not cluttered with superfluous detail and the sparing design enhances the material. Here, the horn triumphs in the broad, spreading leaves and thorny stems. The beauty of the material, the quality of the sculpture and the chiselling and the refinement of the patina suffice in themselves. The precious materials, the mother-of-pearl of the petals and the diamonds of the stamens, are used with exemplary restraint. Yet Gaillard&apos;s technique also lends itself to poetic touches. A few flakes of gold, slightly bronzed, suggest the first reddish tinge on the leaves doomed to die
French jeweller known for Japanese motif jewellery and mixed metals work. In 1860, Ernest Gaillard took over his father’s Parisian jewellery workshops. Though the workshops had, until then, produced primarily gilt copper jewels, Ernest changed its focus to silver jewellery. During the 1870’s and 80’s, he experimented with different kinds of patination as well as with enamels, niello, and Japanese-style inlay work. In 1878, his work won a silver medal at Paris’s International Exposition. In 1889, he was awarded a Legion of Honor cross for his innovative technical contributions to the trade.
In 1892, Gaillard handed over the business to his son, Lucien. Since 1878, Lucien had been eagerly waiting in the wings. “A tireless worker who was captivated by his work,” says Vever, “Gaillard enthusiastically studied all its technical aspects, including alloys, gilding, and patinas, and achieved fascinating results.” At the 1889 Parisian International Exhibition, he was awarded a gold medal for his engraved objects. At the Exhibition in 1900, he displayed an impressive array of silver vases, remarkable for their subtle, alluring patinas. Though he left without winning a prize, Gaillard came away with a new source of inspiration: the jewellery of René Lalique. Thereafter, Gaillard began creating [[[Art Nouveau]] jewels of his own. His pieces were impressive and won him acclaim at various Parisian Salons from 1902 to 1904. The designs had a distinctly Japanese feel, featuring stylized insects, flowers, and trees. This is not surprising, as he employed Japanese craftsmen in his Parisian workshop. The pieces they created with Gaillard and his Parisian staff typically featured organic materials like horn and ivory. If gold or silver were used, the metal was given a soft patina and, typically, embellished with enamels, engraving, or both.
Vincenzo Bellini - Malinconia, ninfa gentile was one of several songs composed during the composer&apos;s years in Milan. It belongs to a group of songs published by Ricordi as a set of &quot;sei ariette.&quot; It is the first of a group of six songs organized by key, alternating between major and minor mode. The verses were possibly by Ippolito Pindemonte. The song is short and to the point, highly dramatic and operatic in its conception. The piano accompaniment imitates an opera orchestra, establishing the mood but leaving the solo voice in the foreground. The poem is a hymn to the nymph Melancholy, and has a pastoral setting that is belied by the passionate, nineteenth-century Romantic vocal writing. However one can hear the murmur of the brook in the piano accompaniment, even as the voice soars to its dramatic conclusion.
Lucien Gaillard, ca 1908 Amsterdam Rijksmuseum
Art Noveau is remarkable for its references to
Nature, both the animal and the planet world.
Hundreds of different flowers, types of foliage and
petals coexist with insects, birds, frogs, swans and
dragons in a fantastic dream-world: the world of
Art Nouveau, where woman is often magically fussed
with the natural world to produce the woman-insect
and the woman-flower.
These elements are to be found in all kinds of pieces,
from the now classic brooches, pendants, bracelets
and chokers to the pins, earrings, combs and hair
bands, as well as in items from the men's jewelry
range, such as cuff links and tie-pins.
Lucien Gaillard (1861-1942) was a
contemporary of René Lalique and
achieved equal fame c. 1900, as Art
Nouveau and Japonisme swept Paris.
However, unlike Lalique, Gaillard’s
animals and insects were proportioned
exactly. He did not elongate parts of his
animals to express Symbolist philosophy.
Lucien Gaillard, 1862- 1933
Called the bluebird comb, it was done by Lucien
Galliard, c.1900. The stars are made from old-
Price estimate: $100,000 – $150,000.
Sound: Cecilia Bartoli
Vincenzo Bellini - Malinconia, ninfa gentile, for voice & piano
Leonardo Leo - Qual farfalla
Text & Pictures: Internet
Flower pictures: Nicoleta Leu
Copyright: All the images belong to their authors
Presentation: Sanda Foi oreanuş