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The Art Noveau Movement and Jewelry

As part of our ongoing jewelry history series, today we introduce pieces from the Art Nouveau period, with its flowing and fantastical forms and shapes.

The “Art Nouveau” (“new art”) movement was one of the first departures from classical art and design, towards a new modernism. This avant-garde movement occurred during what was known in France as the “La Belle Époque” period, or “beautiful era” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In Germany, the Art Nouveau movement was known as the “Jugendstil,” or “youth style” arts and crafts movement, named after “Jugend,” a cultural weekly magazine founded by Georg Hirth in 1896.

The Modernism movement was primarily influenced by the radical work of Czech (Moravian) artist Alphonse Maria Mucha (1860—1939), Swiss decorative artist Eugène Samuel Grasset (1845—1917), and English illustrator Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (1872—1898) — illustrator of the “The Peacock Skirt” below, left—and the ground-breaking architectural design work of Hector Guimard (1867—1942) of Paris (Paris Métro – below, right) and the surrealist architecture of Antoni Plàcid Gaudí (1852—1926) in Barcelona, Spain.

Design motifs of the Art Nouveau movement focused heavily on the themes of nature, fantasy, and the female form, with sensual flowing shapes that simulated the organic growth that would be reminiscent of the primeval Garden of Eden.

Exotic floral motifs with animals, birds, butterfles, dragonflies, peacock feathers and marsh plants were incorporated with graceful feminine imagery or fairies, mermaids and nymphs, complete with their long manes of twisting hair.

Some of the floral motifs that were used in the Art Nouveau style were borrowed from English artist William Morris, founder of the “Arts and Crafts Movement” of the late Victorian era.

Source: All About Gemstones