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Sold at Auction: Hector Guimard

Alias:Hector-Germain Guimard
SculptorCommercial artist


Hector Guimard (10 March 1867 – 20 May 1942) was a French architect and designer, and a prominent figure of the Art Nouveau style. He achieved early fame with his design for the Castel Beranger, the first Art Nouveau apartment building in Paris, which was selected in an 1899 competition as one of the best new building facades in the city. He is best known for the glass and iron edicules or canopies, with ornamental Art Nouveau curves, which he designed to cover the entrances of the first stations of the Paris Metro.

Hector Guimard was born in Lyon on 10 March 1867. His father, Germain-René Guimard, was an orthopedist, and his mother, Marie-Françoise Bailly, was a linen maid. His parents married on 22 June 1867. His father became a gymnastics teacher at the Lycée Michelet in Vanves in 1878, and the following year Hector began to study at the Lycée. In October 1882 he enrolled at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs, or school of decorative arts. He received his diploma on 17 March 1887, and promptly enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts, where he studied architecture. He received honorable mention in several architectural competitions, and also showed his paintings at the Paris Salon des Artistes in 1890, and in 1892 competed, without success, in the competition for the Prix de Rome. In October 1891 he began to teach drawing and perspective to young women at the École nationale des arts decoratifs and later a course on perspective for younger students, a post he held until July 1900.

He showed his work at the Paris Salons of April 1894 and 1895, which earned him a prize of a funded voyage first to England and Scotland, and then, in the summer of 1895, to the Netherlands and Belgium. In Brussels in the summer of 1895, he met the Belgian architect Victor Horta, one of the founders of Art Nouveau, and saw the sinuous vegetal and floral lines of the Hotel Tassel, one of the earliest Art Nouveau houses. Guimard arranged for Horta to have an exhibition of his designs at the January 1896 Paris Salon, and Guimard's own style and career began to change.
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