Art Nouveau (English European)

A typical Art Nouveau poster. A beautiful woman adorned with jewellery and headgear. Flowing lines inspired by flower stems.

A brief look at Art Nouveau:

Taken from:

Art Nouveau  or Jugendstil is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art – especially the decorative arts – that was most popular during 1890–1910.English uses the French name Art Nouveau (“new art”), but the style has many different names in other countries. A reaction to academic art of the 19th century, it was inspired by natural forms and structures, not only in flowers and plants, but also in curved lines. Architects tried to harmonize with the natural environment.

Art Nouveau is considered a “total” art style, embracing architecture, graphic art, interior design, and most of the decorative arts including jewellery, furniture, textiles, household silver and other utensils and lighting, as well as the fine arts. According to the philosophy of the style, art should be a way of life. For many well-off Europeans, it was possible to live in an art nouveau-inspired house with art nouveau furniture, silverware, fabrics, ceramics including tableware, jewellery, cigarette cases, etc. Artists desired to combine the fine arts and applied arts, even for utilitarian objects.

Maison de l’Art Nouveau (House of New Art) was the name of the gallery initiated in 1895 by the German art dealer Siegfried Bing in Paris that featured exclusively modern art.The fame of his gallery was increased at the 1900 Exposition Universelle, where he presented coordinated—in design and color—installations of modern furniture, tapestries and objets d’art. These decorative displays became so strongly associated with the style that the name of his gallery subsequently provided a commonly used term for the entire style. Thus the term “Art Nouveau” was created.

Part of the evolution of Art Nouveau were several international fairs which presented buildings and products designed in the new style. So, the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition marks the beginning of the Modernisme, with some buildings of Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris, presented an overview of the ‘modern style’ in every medium. It achieved further recognition at the Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte Decorativa Moderna of 1902 in Turin, Italy, where designers exhibited from almost every European country where Art Nouveau was practiced.

Art Nouveau is usually known as Jugendstil  in Germany, as Modern  in Russia, as Modernisme in Catalonia (Spain), as Secession in Austria-Hungary and as Stile Liberty in Italy. Hence, it is known in various guises with frequent localised characteristics. Other local names were associated with the characteristics of its forms, its practitioners and their works, and schools of thought or study where it was popular. 

In other cases, important examples, well-known artists, and associated locations influenced the names. Hector Guimard’s Paris Métro entrances, for example, provided the term Style Métro, the popularity in Italy of Art Nouveau designs from London’s Liberty & Co department store resulted in its being known as the Stile Liberty (“Liberty style”), and, in the United States, it became known as the “Tiffany style” due to its association with Louis Comfort Tiffany. In Austria, a localised form of Art Nouveau was practised by artists of the Vienna Secession, and it is, therefore, known as the Sezessionstil (“Secession style”). As a stand-alone term, however, “Secession”  is used frequently to describe the general characteristics of Art Nouveau style outside Vienna, but mostly in areas of Austria-Hungary at the beginning of the 20th century. In the United Kingdom, it is associated with the activities of Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow, and is often known as the “Glasgow” style.

Form and character

La tournée du Chat Noir avec Rodolphe Salis (1896) by Théophile Steinlen

Although Art Nouveau acquired distinctly localised tendencies as its geographic spread increased, some general characteristics are indicative of the form. A description published in Pan magazine of Hermann Obrist’s wall hanging Cyclamen (1894) described it as “sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip”, which became well known during the early spread of Art Nouveau. Subsequently, not only did the work itself become better known as The Whiplash but the term “whiplash” is frequently applied to the characteristic curves employed by Art Nouveau artists. Such decorative “whiplash” motifs, formed by dynamic, undulating, and flowing lines in a syncopated rhythm and asymmetrical shape, are found throughout the architecture, painting, sculpture, and other forms of Art Nouveau design.

The origins of Art Nouveau are found in the resistance of the artist William Morris to the cluttered compositions and the revival tendencies of the 19th century and his theories that helped initiate the Arts and crafts movement. However, Arthur Mackmurdo’s book-cover for Wren’s City Churches (1883), with its rhythmic floral patterns, is often considered the first realisation of Art Nouveau. About the same time, the flat perspective and strong colors of Japanese wood block prints, especially those of Katsushika Hokusai, had a strong effect on the formulation of Art Nouveau. The Japonisme that was popular in Europe during the 1880s and 1890s was particularly influential on many artists with its organic forms and references to the natural world. Besides being adopted by artists like Emile Gallé and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Japanese-inspired art and design was championed by the businessmen Siegfried Bing and Arthur Lasenby Liberty at their stores in Paris and London, respectively.

Relationship with contemporary styles and movements

Adele Bloch-Bauer 1 by Gustav Klimt.

As an art style, Art Nouveau has affinities with the Pre-Raphaelites and the Symbolist styles, and artists like Aubrey Beardsley, Alphonse Mucha, Edward Burne-Jones, Gustav Klimt and Jan Toorop could be classed in more than one of these styles.

Fine art and graphics

The Peacock Skirt, by Aubrey Beardsley, (1892)

A key influence was the Paris-based Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, who produced a lithographed poster, which appeared on 1 January 1895 in the streets of Paris as an advertisement for the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou, featuring Sarah Bernhardt. Initially named Style Mucha, (Mucha Style), his style soon became known as Art Nouveau in France. Mucha’s work has continued to experience periodic revivals of interest for illustrators and artists.

These women were dubbed “Cherettes” because this imagery was so synonymous with Jules Cheret.

Art Nouveau inspired fonts:

Taken from:

Below are Powerpoint slides to summarize Art Nouveau:

Art Noveau



U.S. Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry sails into Tokyo Bay, opening Japan to the West.


Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species,published.


France defeated in the Franco-Prussian War. Germany unified.


First impressionist exhibition held in Paris.

Morris & Co. established, promoting arts and crafts movement.



Thomas Edison demonstrates the electric light.


Construction begins on ten-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago, the first to use skyscraper engineering.

Term “art nouveau” appears in print for the first time, describing the Belgian artists’ group “Les XX.”


The first subway system opens in London.


Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz invent the first automobile run by an internal combustion engine.


The Eiffel Tower is built for the Paris World’s Fair.

New York
Tiffany Glass and
Decorating Company established.


Great Britain
Aubrey Beardsley design published in the first issue of the magazine The Studio.Paris
Japanese prints exhibition organized by Siegfried Bing.Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec paints Jane Avril at the Jardin de Paris.

Victor Horta designs
the Tassel House.

Columbian World’s Fair;
Adler and Sullivan design the Transportation Building.


Women win the right to vote in New Zealand, the first country to embrace female suffrage. In Belgium universal male suffrage is adopted.

Hector Guimard designs
Castel Béranger.


Claude Debussy completes L’après-midi d’une faune.

Siegfried Bing opens his gallery/shop L’Art Nouveau.Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibits at Bing’s opening of L’Art Nouveau.


The Lumière brothers screen the first moving picture–of workers leaving a factory.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and
George Walton design
Buchanan Street tearooms.Brussels
World’s Fair: Henry van de Velde and Victor Horta show designs.


United Workshops for Art in Handicraft founded.Vienna
Josef Olbrich designs
Secession Building.Gustav Klimt paints Pallas Athene.

Exhibition of Italian decorative arts.


European and American troops are sent to quell the Boxer Rebellion in China.

South Kensington Museum becomes Victoria and Albert Museum.Paris
Hector Guimard designs
Castel Henriette.René Lalique designs Dragonfly woman corsage ornament.


Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, published.

Charles Robert Ashbee and Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibit to great acclaim at Eighth Secession Exhibition, Vienna.Paris
Loïe Fuller Pavilion, Pavilion Bing, and other Art Nouveau designs triumph at the World’s Fair.Paris metro opens using Hector Guimard’s Metro station entrances.


Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, published.

Émile Gallé made first president of École de Nancy.


Queen Victoria dies after sixty-three-year reign that saw vast expansion of British colonial rule.


Americans Wilbur and Orville Wright make the first manned flight at Kitty Hawk.

Pierre and Marie Curie share Nobel Prize for discovery of radium.


Albert Einstein develops the special theory of relativity.

Exhibition at Salon d’automne by artists dubbed “les fauves.”

Antoní Gaudí designs Casa Milá.


Frank Lloyd Wright designs Robie House.


Completion of Glasgow School of Art.


Venice Biennale includes Gustav Klimt.


Jan Kotêra founds the Union of Czech Artwork.


Igor Stravinsky, Le sacre du printemps,performed.

Vienna Workshops go into liquidation.


Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand triggers World War I.

A blog focusing on Art Nouveau:

Blog by Olga Harmsen

Bibliography / References /Links

REF: Duncan, Alastair. Art Nouveau. World of Art. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1994. ISBN 0-500-20273-7

REF: Kerr, Gordon, Art Nouveau. United Kingdom: Pulteney Press. ISBN 978-I-906734-64-0

REF: Justin Wolf. (29th November 2015) The Art Story. Modern art insight.

Available at: URL [Accessed 29 December 2015}

REF: Greenhalgh Paul, Essential Art Noveau. London, V&A Publications, 2000 ISBN 1851772960

REF: Visual Arts Encyclopedia

Available at:

REF: Richard Whitehouse,web design by Marbeth Schon Copyright ©  Modern Silver magazine 2001

Available at:

REF: Blooms Hotel, Artwork by James Earley,

Available at:


Source of Illustrations/images

REF: Sumayyah Bitar, S.B. (2015).

Available at: [Accessed 29 December 2015].

REF: Lanisatu (2015). Art Noveau swirls free vector.

Available at: [Accessed 29 December 2015].

REF: Songs of Innocence book cover by William Blake.

Available at: 29 December 2015].

REF:  Photo of William Morris.

Available at:

[Accessed 29 December 2015].

REF: Arthur Mackmurdo Chair.

Available at: [Accessed 29 December 2015].

REF:     Wren City Churches cover by A.H Mackmurdo

Available at:


REF: Photographer: Frederick Hollyer, England, Journal: Photographische Rundschau, 1902

Atelier Meisenbach, Riffarth & Co. Year 1902

Available at:

REF: Flora’s Feast by Walter Crane.

Available at:  [Accessed 29 December 2015]

REF: Available at:

REF: Blog about getting to know Art Noveau

Available at:[Accessed 30 December 2015]

REF:  Paris Metro

Available at:[Accessed 30th Dec 2015]

REF: La Sagrada Familia

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REF: Exposition Universelle (The Curve in the Line)

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REF: The Peacock Skirt, Aubrey Beardsley 1894

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REF: A comedy of Sighs poster, Aubrey Beardsley 1894. Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England

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REF: F. Champenois Imprimeue Editeur, 1897, Lithograph, Art Renewal Center Museum, Image 4411

Available at:

REF: Biscuits Lefèvre-Utile, 1896, lithograph, Art Renewal Center Museum.

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REF: Blooms Hotel, Inputout article

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REF: Judith and the head of Holfernes, Lucie Pierron

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