A French Art Nouveau lighted gilt bronze sculpture by Charles Korschann, depicting a woman holding a bouquet of flowers on a tray with an inkwell on the opposite side.The elegant female form''s bouquet of hydrangeas is wonderfully lit so as to radiate dappled light outward. The disproportionate size of the lady in flowing golden robes implies she is a mythical creature tending to her garden. Pictured in: "Art Nouveau and Art Deco Lighting" by Alastair Duncan, page 129 and in "Dynamic Beauty: Sculpture of Art Nouveau Paris" by Macklowe Gallery, The Studley Press, 2011, p. 164.
A French Art Nouveau bronze draped female nude in the form of a two-light sconce by Georges Flamand. The draped maiden, in a two-color patina, is supporting two lighting elements mounted on a wooden marquetry easel with a floral and thistle motif.
A French Art Nouveau wheel-carved cameo glass vase by Daum, featuring a decoration of blue flowers and light blue and grey stems and leaves on an opaque, mottled white and yellow ground. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: "Daum Frères: Maîtres Verriers, 1892-1935," by Katharina Büttiker-Weber, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 1986, cat. no. 114.
A French Art Nouveau cameo glass "Snow Drop" vase by Daum, featuring carved light blue flowers on brown stems against a mottled white and blue ground. A similar vase is pictured in: "Daum Nancy: Maîtres Verriers" by Katharina Büttiker, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 2001, p. 68, cat. no. 43.
A French Art Nouveau wheel-carved cameo glass vase by Daum, featuring a decoration of blue flowers and light blue/grey stems and leaves on an opaque, mottled white and yellow ground. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: "French Cameo Glass" by Berniece and Henry Blount, Des Moines: Dr.& Mrs. Henry Blount, Jr., 1968, p. 74, cat. no. 102.
A French Art Nouveau wheel-carved cameo glass vase by Daum, featuring green leaves and orange berries against a dark orange and mottled light green ground. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: "Daum" by Clotilde Bacri, Noël Daum and Claude Pétry, Paris: Michel Aveline Éditeur, 1992, p. 95.
A French Art Nouveau ceramic tray by Edmond Lachenal, featuring a decoration of three frogs hanging on to the sides of a lily pad, in light brown and green glazes. A similar tray is pictured in: "Edmond Lachenal and His Legacy," by Martin Eidelberg and Claire Cass, New York: Jason Jacques Gallery Press, 2007, p. 100, cat. no. 22.
A French Art Nouveau ceramic vase by Edmond Lachenal, featuring a stylistic depiction of leaves and vines with intricate piercing and carving in a graduated light green to green glaze. A similar vase is pictured in: "The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. IV: Ceramics and Glass" by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1998, p. 266 (Grès vase, from La Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, 1898); and in: "Edmond Lachenal and His Legacy," by Martin Eidelberg and Claire Cass, New York: Jason Jacques Gallery Press, 2007, p. 81, cat. no. 12.
An Art Nouveau cameo glass and Vienna Faience glazed figural lamp by Emile Gallé and Podany. The porcelain base is formed from three dancing women with outstretched arms holding a garland of pink roses. The blossoms echo the elegant dome-shaped rosy-hued shade. Both the inside and the outside of the shade are decorated with pink and green flowers in carved relief.
"La Femme Couchée", A French Art Nouveau glass pâte-de-verre paperweight (press-papiers) designed by A. Finot and executed by Amalric Walter, cast in the form of a female nude with light brown hair reclining on a bed of leaves colored in various tones of yellowish/orange and green. A similar piece, entitled Femme couchée, is pictured in: La pâte de verre, by Nöel Daum, Paris: Edition Denöel, 1984, page 105, plate 129.
A French Art Nouveau marquetry commode by Émile Gallé. With original key. The syncretic influence of Japanese art is keenly felt in Gallé''s commode. The beginning of Galle''s fascination with Japanese art can be traced back to his friendship with Hokkai Takashima (1850-1931), a fellow botanist and member of the École de Nancy. Their botanical dialogue was facilitated by the Shokobutsu mei-i, a book of Japanese names for botanical species. It is from Hokkai that Gallé gained a spiritual and symbolic understanding of nature. Along with other École de Nancy artists, Hokkai and Gallé exhibited together in the display window of René Wiener''s papeterie. The store served as the office of Wiener''s arts journal, the Nancy artiste, which regularly featured on its covers contemporary examples of Gansai (Japanese watercolor), Byobu (folding screens) from the Rinpa school, Sumi-e (ink painting), and Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints). As a show of gratitude, Hokkai bequeathed a vast art book collection to Wiener. It is from this record that we know with certainty of which Japanese artists Gallé had knowledge. One of the books in Hokkai''s collection was Hokusai''s Les cent paysages du Fuji (Fugaku hyakkei.) This 1835 expansion of Hokusai''s 36 views of Mount Fuji contained more elaborate iterations of his original compositions. The commode features two drawers and four cabriole legs.
The front of the drawers features a marquetry panel with mountains, unkai (sea of clouds) and usugumo (wisps of clouds) motifs. It is likely from works like Hokusai''s Yama mata yama (Mountains Upon Mountains) that Gallé assimilated the unkai (??) motif. The Yama mata yama is the album''s only zenithal view, allowing this phenomenon which is normally only visible from high elevations. On the top of the commode, a sunset mirage overlooks the entire scene. Meanwhile in the foreground, Gallé has included a usugumo motif rendered in warm brown wood. The wisps of cloud motif originates in a stanza in the Tale of Genji in his mourning for Fujitsubo. Those thin wisps of cloud trailing there over Mountains caught in sunset light Seem to wish to match their hue To the sleeves of the bereaved. There is a distinct temporal quality in the commode''s composition. The left side panel depicts a diurne while the right side panel depicts a nocturne. The juxtaposition of day and night in Japanese ukiyo-e was a subject much beloved by Hokusai and Hiroshige and was termed chuya (chu meaning day and ya meaning night). The Japanese nocturne was clearly a subject of great fascination to Gallé as well as evidenced by his "Nuit Japonais" vase. A similar commode is pictured in: "Gallé Furniture", by Alastair Duncan and Georges de Bartha, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 2012, p. 329, plate 15.
A French Art Nouveau gilt bronze boudoir lamp by Edouard Colonna. The gilt bronze base has a foliate motif. The fringed pale gold silk shade is topped by a twisted vine finial that spreads in an arch over the lamp. A similar lamp is pictured in: "Art Nouveau: The French Aesthetic," by Victor Arwas, London: Andreas Papadakis, 2002, p. 281.
A French "Théâtre de Loïe Fuller" lithograph by Manuel Orazi. The poster depicts the dancer Loïe Fuller with flowing red hair and her signature billowing costume, surrounded by stylized flowers. Realistically-drawn flowers descend from the poster title. The artist''s insignia appears on the lower right of the image. A similar poster is pictured in:" Loïe Fuller: Magician of Light," Exhibition at the Virginia Museum, March 12-April 22, 1979, Richmond: The Virginia Museum, 1979, p. 76; and in: "The Kogod Collection," E. Greenwich, RI: Meridian Printing, 2004, p. 242.
A Tiffany Studios New York Favrile glass and patinated bronze "Eighteen-light Lily" lamp with 18 golden iridescent glass "Lily" shades suspended over a patinated bronze "Lily Pad" base. Tiffany took this model to the Paris and Turin World''s Fairs around the turn of the century, where the American lamp made waves in the French Art Nouveau movement. Praised for its elegance, the Tiffany "Lily" has been called the "Aristocrat of the Garden." This particular lamp is of special historical importance, even compared with other models of the same design, because it is one of the earliest examples of the "Eighteen-Light Lily." It is outfitted with shades of particular delicacy and iridescence that would have accommodated the weak light from the then newly-invented light bulbs. The shades are mounted on slender curving stems that grow out of a base in the shape of water lily flowers and pads.A similar lamp is pictured in: "Tiffany Lamps and Metalware: An illustrated reference to over 2000 models," by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge: Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1988, p. 80, plate 313.
A French Art Nouveau "Vigne et Escargots" vase by Daum. The vase features grape clusters, vines and leaves in low relief with an an applied snail on one of the upper leaves, all against a mottled amber, pink, red, plum and white glass ground. Some of the grapes are also applied to to heighten the natural effects of the grape clusters. The scene is loosely landscape-based, with roots at the bottom and vines hanging down from the top, but the complex composition makes the piece entirely surreal. During the Art Nouveau period artists frequently used scenes from nature to convey human emotion, and vice versa. This autumnal piece is dark and mysterious, with gnarls, roots, and snails slithering on it. The motifs, patterns, and textures on the vase imply a time of transience, like the changing of the seasons. The "Vigne et Escargots" vase was produced in five layers beginning with a colorless glass core. The top two thirds of the intercalaire layer is colored with sulfure de cadmium inclusions and the bottom third is powdered with améthyste inclusions. After being cased with colorless glass, the glass was colored with translucent white inclusions in the top two thirds of the vase and améthyste in the bottom two thirds. Cirrus clouds at sunset were created with améthyste inclusions sprinkled atop burgundy inclusions. The base features a spattering of opaque verte de paris in
clusions. To create a soot-like atmosphere, bistre inclusions were sprinkled about the grapes. The final layer consists of burgundy inclusions in the top third and améthyste, opaque verte de paris, and translucent white inclusions in the bottom two thirds. The vase was subsequently blown into an inverted baluster form with an undulating trefoil mouth and a splayed thick concave firing foot. In the constriction between the body and foot, the body was twisted counter-clockwise, while the constriction between body and neck was twisted clockwise. The striation created by the twisting of the intercalated layers create a sense of rising air. The bodies of the burgundy snails were subsequently created with drawn out upper and lower tentacles and fused with yellow powdered glass. For the snails'' shells, a core of colorless glass was coated in light gray-brown, dark gray-brown and black powdered glass and cased in another layer of colorless glass. The snail shells were fused to the body using this very powdered glass mixture. After the design was painted in wax upon the vase, the background and snails were acid-etched, allowing the intercalated layers to show through and the snails to be given a frosted appearance. The grape vine design and snails were subsequently hand carved, taking care to detail the snail shell''s bands. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: Daum Frères: Maîtres Verriers, 1892-1935, by Katharina Büttiker-Weber, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 1986, cat. no. 79.
A French Art Nouveau "Pivoines" table lamp by Émile Gallé. The lamp features a vibrant detailed decoration of crimson red peonies wrapped around the base and shade, surrounded by foliage of plum-colored leaves. The patinated bronze mounts replicate the foliage theme and have scarab beetle terminals. A similar lamp is pictured in A. Duncan, G. de Bartha, "Gallé Le Verre," London, 1984, p. 153, pl. 214.
A French Art Nouveau hair comb with carved horn by Elizabeth Bonté. The hair comb features two cicadas in carved horn amidst foliage. The comb has five teeth. Elizabeth Bonté was an Art Nouveau designer educated at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and an acknowledged master of unusual and beautiful organic materials in jewels. She was an early proponent of the use of horn, a light and pliable but extraordinarily difficult material that, once mastered, could be tinted, molded and given a skin-like patina. Here the horn has been carved, shaped and colored to represent a pair of cicadas perched among fruiting olive branches and leaves. For years, Bonté''s main rival was a man, Georges Pierre, who ultimately joined her studio. They combined forces, collaborating until 1936.
A French Art Nouveau "Chardons des Sables" chest of drawers by Émile Gallé. The "Chardons des Sables" (sand thistle) commode is a moving meditation on mortality. Gallé created this piece in 1903, after he was diagnosed with leukemia. He died the following year. Gallé has rendered a vista redolent of a longing for return. The commode''s central "sand thistle" motif alludes to a passage in Victor Hugo''s poem Les contemplations, Paroles sur la dune (1854): Maintenant que mon temps décroît comme un flambeau Que mes tâches sont terminées; Maintenant que voici que je touche au tombeau Par les deuils et par les années, (...) Je regarde, au dessus du mont et du vallon, Et des mers sans fin remuées, S''envoler sous le bec du vautor aquilon, Toute la toisuon des nuées (...) Et je pense, écoutant gémir le vent amer, Et l''onde aux plis infranchissables; L''été rit, et l''on voit sur le bord de la mer Fleurir le chardon bleu des sables. Now that, like candlelight, my lifetime wanes And my tasks are complete; Now that I, passing years and faced with pains, Find the grave at my feet, (...) I watch, high over mountaintop and vale And ever-surging sea, Before the beak of that vulture the gale, The woolen clouds all flee. (...) So I reflect, hearing the wind''s harsh roar, And the wave''s boundless pow
er Though summer smiles, and on the sandy shore, See the blue sand thistle flower. Like Victor Hugo in Les contemplations, Paroles sur la dune, the sand thistle figured on the marquetry frontispiece is towards the end of its bloom season. Most of the flower heads have turned dark brown and three have detached from their rosettes only to blow away in the ocean gale. To understand the extent of Gallé''s thematic dedication, one need only look at a blackened sand thistle leaf located in the center back of the commode top. The leaf is of the same value as the aqueous background, rendering it nearly imperceptible. Though seemingly a superfluous detail, the leaf''s inclusion completes the piece''s narrative: the plant, like the artist, fades into oblivion. Gallé''s pairing of image and poem is steeped in Japanese tradition. Gallé believed that Japanese artists painted with a "spirituel pinceau" (spiritual brush) and that marine plants were "bulleuse calligraphie" (blistered calligraphy). Unlike his previous Hugo-inspired furniture, Gallé has opted not to include the refrains of the poem that inspired this piece in the marquetry. Instead the work itself has become the poem. Gallé had previously synthesized land and sea in his 1889 Flora Marina, Flora exotica jardiniere. While his prior explorations of the theme relied heavily on allegory and ornate high relief carving, the "Chardons des Sables" commode is a prime example of Gallé''s aesthetic maturation into a thoroughly modern artist. Gone are the ink and shellac outlines and the sand-shaded wood. Rather, Gallé has taken advantage of the striations, figuring and coloration of the natural veneer. The "Chardon des sables" commode stands on four short legs with five long drawers in a carcass of walnut. The first and fifth drawer feature umbelliferae friezes. The second to fourth drawer fronts are veneered with marquetry panels showing "Chardon des sables" in front of the sea. The sky background of the second and third drawer utilizes Burmese rosewood. While rays are a cell type present in all hardwoods, woods in which the rays appear as parallel minute dark stripes of wood are rare. This feature, termed "storied rays," are only found in choice species of tropical hardwoods. For the background of the commode''s frontispiece, the ray patterning serves as a secondary pattern to the dominant dark veining. In this way, although the sky and sea are represented by different wood species, the storied rays imbue the piece with a visual harmony. The Burmese rosewood used in the sky was selected so that the height between each striation decreased as it approached the horizon thereby creating a depth of field. The striation terminates two-thirds of the way down the third drawer. The uniformity from this point until the horizon line mimics the way in which clouds merge into a continuous layer in the deep background. The Le Champ du Sang commode, a piece created three years prior to this one, for the Exposition Universelle de 1900, was designed in a similar compositional formula: foreground flowers and low horizon line. The horizon line was articulated as a hard edge with two contrasting pieces of wood spliced together. The stillness of the scene is palpably felt. As opposed to Le Champ du Sang, the Chardons des Sables commode features a remarkably seamless transition between the sky and the undulating ripples of the sea. Recent close examination has confirmed that the pattern was formed by cutting a single piece of veneer using two different methods. This is evidenced by the wood''s ray arrangement. The first quarter of the drawer is uniformly colored with horizontally storied rays. In the undulating dark brown pattern of the bottom three-quarters of the drawer, the ray arrangement becomes varied (horizontally, obliquely and vertically.) Horizontal storied rays only become visible in crown cut veneer where the wood is cut tangentially to the growth ring. Meanwhile, the varied "storied ray" arrangement only becomes visible when the wood is rotary cut, wherein, the log is centered on a lathe and turned against a broad cutting knife set into the log at a slight angle. To create the veneer''s pattern, the wood must have first been rotary cut. The log had to be subsequently removed from the lathe, and a steam-powered band saw had to rip the wood precisely a few millimeters to the left and right of the rotary cut''s terminus. The method used in the fourth drawer was an extremely time-consuming and precise method of cutting-- all done for the sake of capturing the artist''s compelling personal vision. The characteristic dark-veined swirled grain rotary cut pattern combined with the pommele markings present throughout distinguish the wood as Bubinga, a wood sourced from Equatorial Africa. The density of the pommele-figured Bubinga causes a chatoyant (changeable luster) effect. The resultant sheen simulates the way that light dapples across the water, ideal for Gallé''s representation of the ocean. The work stands out not only in its exceptional artistic technique but also marks the culmination of a scientific career. A lifetime as a botanist had given Gallé a penchant for morphological accuracy. Gallé had previously depicted other species of brittle stars, namely the Striped Ophiolepis superba. While Ophiolepis superba features short to non-existent arm spines, Gallé has chosen to depict the long arm spined Ophiothrix fragilis (hairy brittle star). Using an astounding economy of means, Gallé articulated these spines using the natural wood texture of the Cocos nucifera (Red Coconut Palm.) The contrasting red-brown, black and light gray-brown fibrovascular bundles of the Coconut Palm respectively articulate the negative space between the spines, the shadows of each spine, and the delicate mucosal spines themselves. In another instance of material specificity, the bumpy conceptacles (reproductive cavities) on a bladderwrack are rendered by Gallé using birdseye-figured Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple.) Gallé collected and preserved a variety of seaweed and shell specimens while in the Keller villa. Charles Keller (alias Jacques Turbin) was an anarchist, activist, poet and archaeologist. Keller had built a seafront villa in Carnac, Brittany after the excavation in 1862 of the Saint-Michel Tumulus, a megalithic grave mound. He regularly invited Gallé to this seaside retreat, and even when Gallé returned to Nancy, Keller was sure to send new species to add to Gallé''s burgeoning herbarium. Gallé''s choice of motifs on the commode''s top go far beyond scientific interest in morphological accuracy. Integral to Gallé''s macchia is the dissimilarity of the stiff and flexible, the brittle and fluid. Unlike the closely-related sea star, brittle stars have sinuous flexing arms, giving their legs an efflorescent appearance. This quality makes the brittle star an ideal object of representation. Conversely, the thick stem of the star thistle reads to the viewer as kelp in this underwater milieu. At the point in which the marine becomes flora and flora becomes marine, the conceptual unity of the piece reaches its culmination. Hugo, Victor, E. H. Blackmore, and A. M. Blackmore. 2004. Selected poems of Victor Hugo: a bilingual edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Gallé, Emile. 1908. Écrits pour l''art: floriculture, art décoratif, notices d''exposition, 1884-1889. Paris: Renouard. https://archive.org/details/critspourlartflo00gall. Pictured in: "The Paris Salons 1895-1914 Volume III: Furniture," by Alastair Duncan, Antique Collectors Club, 1996, page 235.
A French Art Nouveau gilt bronze lighted sculpture, "Loïe Fuller," designed and sculpted by François-Raoul Larche. This is the most famous of all bronzes to be made in the Art Nouveau aesthetic, representing the famous American dancer and choreographer, Loïe Fuller performing one of her dances. Her flowing robes and fabrics conceal two light bulbs. This sculpture has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions, most notably at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Villa Stuck Museum in Germany.
A French Art Nouveau "Danseuse A L''Écharpe No. 12" gilt bronze sculpture by Agathon Léonard. Originally created as a smaller group of ceramic figures, possibly based on the dancer Loïe Fuller, the series was completed in hard porcelain by the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres as a fifteen-piece table-top group, "Jeu de L''Echarpe." After acclaim at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900, the French foundry Susse Frères produced bronze casts of these, incorporating discreet lighting on some models.Published/Exhibited: Macklowe and Goldring, "Dynamic Beauty: Sculpture of Art Nouveau Paris," 2011, p. 190; Böstge, "Agathon Léonard: Le geste Art Nouveau," 2003, p. 75.
A French Art Nouveau ceramic plate with iridescent glaze by Clement Massierm depicting a dancing woman. Loïe Fuller employed smoke, billowing fabrics and dramatic lighting in her choreography, creating an ethereal, otherworldly effect, the likes of which the world had never seen. Clement Massier drew inspiration from her for this iridescent glazed ceramic charger, where Fuller seems to be floating in a sea of the unknown. The feathered decoration in the enamel work merges with her swirling draperies, further accented by iridescent green and purple highlights against a golden ground. The inspiration for the subject matter of the plate was undoubtedly the Aermican dancer and choreographer , Loïe Fuller, whose dances with swirling silks and experimental lighting made her a legend. A similar charger is pictured in: "Loïe Fuller: Goddess of Light," by Richard Nelson Current and Marcia Ewing Current, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997 (see center color images).
We are committed to making this website available to as many people as possible and is engaged in continued efforts to ensure that this website is accessible to those with special needs, including those with visual, hearing, cognitive and motor impairments. Our efforts in that regard are ongoing. Many internet users can find websites difficult to use. We recognize that this is an important issue, and we are working to ensure that this website is accessible to all persons who wish to use it. Our efforts to improve this website in this regard are in process, so if you come across a page or feature you find inaccessible or difficult to use, please send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.