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Art Nouveau Glass

The "New Art" of Art Nouveau reflected the brilliance of the Belle Époque in Europe at the end of the 19th century. Characterized by the masterful designs of Emile Gallé as well as Daum, Art Nouveau glassware celebrated the beauty of the natural world and infused its richness into each of their designs.

The Art Nouveau movement was in many regards a natural extension from the earlier 19th-century English Arts and Crafts movement. This group emphasized the importance of the artist's hand, and so they sought in their production to keep some aspect of hand-hewn sensibilities in their pieces. The artists of the Art Nouveau, wishing to abandon the aesthetics of Victorian era design, embraced the Arts and Crafts premise by relying on organic motifs, which they subsequently accentuated with ample artistic embellishments.

Art Nouveau glassware designers all shared a focus on smooth surfaces so as to not distract from the piece's organic patterns or rhythms, which enveloped their vessels in rich color and, seemingly, texture. The luminescent, and sometimes almost dewy, appearance of the surface of these pieces, complemented by whiplash swirls and exaggerated curves, resulted in a body of production that left a lasting influence on design.


Quick Facts

  • The Art Nouveau approach influenced all aspects of design, from small decorative glassware to monumental architecture, such as the iconic "La Pedrera" residential complex in Barcelona, designed by architect Antoni Gaudí
  • An Emile Gallé glass vase sold in November 2015 set a record price for a damaged work: more than $58,000. Had it not been damaged, experts suggest the final hammer price could have easily been six times as much
  • So essential was the Art Nouveau movement that its pieces are represented in museums around the world. The city of Riga, Latvia, opened an entire museum dedicated to Art Nouveau design in 2009

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