The Spirited Style of Art Nouveau

July 25th, 2012 | posted by Liz Beirise
Salammbo Art Nouveau Sculpture by Breton

Salammbo Art Nouveau Sculpture by Breton

As one of the more recognizable movements in art and design, Art Nouveau is pervasive in visual culture even today. The sinewy line of flora, the interpretation of the exotic and the flourish of a bold typeface all typify this imaginative style of art, architecture and decorative arts. From the most famous examples – Hector Guimand’s Paris Mètro station entrances and Antonin Gaudì’s La Sagrada FamiliaI – to the widely-produced posters and advertisements, Art Nouveau can be appreciated in many forms.

Art Nouveau Bed

Art Nouveau Bed

M.S. Rau is fortunate to have in its collection a few outstanding pieces of Art Nouveau that beautifully exemplify the captivating range of objects that possess this style. The silvered bronze sculpture by French artist Paul Eugene Breton brings to life the powerful figure of Salammbô, the eponymous character in the 1862 historic novel by Gustave Flaubert. This stunning sculpture captures the Carthaginian priestess, clad in nothing but her jeweled ornaments and shackles, as she performs a sacred ritual. This figure flawlessly echoes the novel’s pre-occupation with Oriental exoticism, which was a popular artistic movement at the time of the novel’s publication. The circular base on which she stands is covered with the coat of a lion, which adds to this work’s decadent impression.

This enchanting bed is a rare example of furniture which celebrates Art Nouveau’s imaginative use of material. Crafted of wrought iron with decorative iron and wood panels, this ornate bed is composed of a headboard, footboard and sides, with flowing lines artfully arranged in a naturalistic fan motif. The wooden panels, adorned with fantastical creatures and mother-of-pearl accents, add to the bed’s natural allure. Sleep could never be as opulent as it is in this outstanding bed.

Baccarat Crystal Nautical Inkwell

Baccarat Crystal Nautical Inkwell

All the drama and glamour one expects from Art Nouveau can be found in this Baccarat crystal nautical inkwell. Gleaming with beautiful doré bronze and elegant crystal, this enchanting objet d’art is a triumphant nautical piece. Both beautiful and functional, the inkwells take the form of a conch shell and a nautical instrument which match the swooning siren centered in the crystal wave. Subtly erotic and overtly captivating, this piece is a masterwork of both the maker and the style.

Glamorous, just because. Exotic, simply to evoke fantasy. Art Nouveau’s hybrid style is as pertinent now as it was when it emerged as an avant-garde movement in the 1880’s. Owning a piece of Art Nouveau means possessing timeless elegance. Look at our website here for more examples and consider starting or adding to your collection today!

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