Lifestyle Magazine

Art Nouveau: A Celebration of Life as Art

By Raymondleejewelers @raymondleejwlrs

Art Nouveau represents a convergence of Symbolist ideals and the radical design principles of a burgeoning class of artisans dedicated to pursuing life as art. The themes of this turn-of-the-century artistic movement find their inspiration primarily in organic feminine forms, including sensual flowers and ethereal insects and animals, such as orchids, dragonflies, irises, and peacocks.

The design features of the Art Nouveau movement are at once intricate and timeless, yet so easily distinguished from any other period in art history. The “whiplash” line (or “S-curve”) is by far the most universal design element of the Art Nouveau style. You might recognize it in the curve of an iris stem or in the feminine arch of a woman’s bare legs. You might see it in the intricate lines of a wisteria trunk or in the sweep of a butterfly’s tail wings. You might catch hints of it in the limbs of trees or in the enticing tendrils of a woman’s hair. No matter where you see it, this sensuous line is the hallmark of this once contemporary style.

Art Nouveau’s best expression is found in jewelry, where master craftsmen on the order of Rene Lalique combined humble materials, such as copper, iron, and glass, with extravagant materials, such as high-carat gold, emeralds, and sapphires, to forge exquisite works of art. These jeweled masterpieces were far more valuable as individual expressions of a brand new style than the sum total of their parts.

As you can see, Art Nouveau represents more than a style. It represents a movement toward the appreciation of the sensuous which continues to demand a response from the one who hears its call.

Are you ready to answer this call and delve deeper into the sensuous delights of this beautiful and exciting period of jewelry history?

Please, won’t you leave me a comment here? I’d love for you to share with me your favorite motif or design technique from the Art Nouveau movement.

 When she is not kissing owies or making peanut butter sandwiches, Angela Magnotti Andrews writes informed and passionate articles about vintage and antique jewelry on her reference site, Jewelry History. She is also a staff writer for EraGem Jewelry, a fine jewelry company based in the Pacific Northwest.

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