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Art Nouveau Jewellery Art

Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) jewellery art.
"I care little for expensive objects if they are only valuable because of diamonds and pearls". This quote by P.C. Fabergé indicates that the design of jewellery is more important than the mere ingredients that have been used to create the piece. When the most beautiful items are united to create a design, an unforgettable piece of jewellery is born! The aforementioned citation certainly applies to Art Nouveau/Jugendstil jewellery.

A short history on the development of Art Nouveau/Jugendstil jewellery.


Samuel-Siegfried Bing, an art dealer from Hamburg, opened a shop in Paris called "Maison de l'Art Nouveau" in 1896. The shop offered undiscovered new art which also featured the jewellery of René Lalique (1860-1945). This artist is one of the most important jewellery designers in the Art Nouveau movement. He introduced a whole new world of shapes and motifs that shows elegant movement: shapes of women, faces of women, heads of butterflies, butterfly women, female nudes, flowers (roses, orchids, lilies), blossom, swamp plants and animals (snakes, bats, peacocks, swans, bugs, fish). It is actually a fairytale world full of symbolism. Nature is translated into jewellery in the form of a secret; quivering flirtatious dragonflies, the swaying of a calyx resembling the birth of a child, rustling treetops representing waving golden locks of a fairy and then there are also nymphs swimming in water. Jewellery is like a lovely dream! Especially jewellery with colourful enamel features has a sense of differentiation when showing the elegant shapes of plants, animals and women. Sweet colours (especially a lot of green) and pastels support the Art Nouveau and Jugendstil lines in the jewellery. Pearls and nacre also fit in this atmosphere. Mysterious iridescent Opals, Moonstones and Topaz show the fragility and fineness of their shapes through their colours. The bijouterie-art of the Art Nouveau and Jugendstil movement values the artistic aspect of the item more than the actual value of the materials that were used. However, the artists did not shy away from using expensive materials. All Art Nouveau/Jugendstil jewellery can be seen as miniature pieces of art. Many artists were charmed by fragile Japanese examples of art that subtly show nature's wildlife.

Besides the picturesque lyrical fairytale elements, decorative flat abstract lines can also be found in jewellery. The jewellery designer George Fouquet (1862-1957) displayed many examples of stylised flowers, leaves, scarab beetles and other animals in his work. The Belgian architect H. van de Velde (1863-1957) shows us the more linear, abstracts side of the Art Nouveau and Jugendstil jewellery. The flowing lines are clever and symmetrical. There is usually no symbolism in these pieces.

In England, the "Modern Style" has roots in the sixties of the 19th century. William Morris (1834-1896) and his craftsmen were objecting to the increasing amount of technology and they aspired to create "handmade", applied art objects. Later on, the movement was called "Arts and Crafts". The use of motifs such as plants, butterflies and flowers made from silver and the use of colourful, round, faceted gemstones can be seen as typically English in the Art Nouveau and Jugendstil jewellery art movement. However, these features have clearly been influenced by Indian jewellery art as well. The use of striking enamel colours is another one of their characteristics.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was a famous Scottish designer whose work has a very distinct look. The famous stylized rose gives pieces of jewellery a sense of familiarity. In 1895, the famous "whiplash", a tapestry with embroidery, was created in Germany. Its flowing lines are definitely noticeable in the jewellery of H. Orist (1863-1927) as well. In Austria the "Viennese secession" came into existence. It was founded in 1897 (they were not called the Wiener Werkstätte until 1903) and, at first, the founding group of artists were inspired by the French symbolistic floralism. In 1904 these ideas were suppressed by influences of the Scottish "School of Glasgow". Josef Hoffman's (1870-1956) jewellery particularly shows refined geometrical shapes because of the collaboration between the artists in this group. Ornamental geometry in metal, which was sometimes decorated with stylized natural shapes in a kind of filigree, was usually set with coloured stones.

It is clear that the Art Nouveau/Jugendstil jewellery can differ greatly when it comes to their look and shape. This usually depends on their cultural background.

Broche LibelJugendstil Broche MistericMackintosh HorlogeOorclips Complex