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Art Nouveau flowers

At the mention of the Art Nouveau style, bizarrely curved lines, the absence of right angles and a whimsical interweaving of stems, leaves, flowers and fruits, revived by insects, appear in memory. All of these are characteristic features of the floral movement of Art Nouveau, familiar to us as Art Nouveau. The style is based on the rejection of traditional ceremonial art and an attempt to bring the beauty of nature, new forms and production technologies into everyday life, making any object a work of art. The founders of the style proclaimed the unity of man and his environment, including interior, architecture, art.

The Art Nouveau style, unlike others, is clearly limited by the time frame: the end of the 1880s - 1914. Its distinctive features are:

  • smooth, bizarrely curved lines (one of the characteristic strokes of which is called "whip blow") and curved surfaces,
  • muted, close to natural colors: blue, white, beige, olive, silver gray, pale purple;
  • dim lighting, dimmed by colored glass lamps and stained-glass windows;
  • the use of natural materials and their combinations: glass, stone, ceramics, wood, metal, fabrics;
  • the main theme of the decor is nature: landscapes, plant and floral patterns, insects and birds.
Vase depicting a landscape with a lake. E. Halle 1904-06 France, Nancy, Storage location: The main headquarters of the Hermitage, St. PetersburgOrchid vase. Around 1900 Brothers House. France, Nancy. Storage location: The main headquarters of the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

In the modern era, symbolism is given a special role. Each drawing is not only an image, but also the artist's thought, expressed through symbols, colors and composition. Images of flowers and plants carry their semantic load: the orchid symbolizes splendor, luxury and love, the fern - peace and quiet, the rose - the beauty of life, lily - purity and purity, hydrangea - modesty and sincerity, iris - light and hope, clematis - tenderness, thistle - courage and fortitude. The bud, as a symbol of the birth of life, is becoming one of the most widespread elements of drawing in Art Nouveau.

Flowers and a branch of blueberries in a glass. Russia. Faberge

The image of a poppy is often found, denoting the transition between sleep and reality, life and death. Individual flowers are preferred over bouquets that were so popular in previous centuries. There is a fashion for products that imitate a flower in a glass of water.

The ornament is gaining particular popularity due to the quite recognizable, but conditional image of plants. Stylized aquatic plants with narrow long stems and leaves - lilies, water lilies, reeds - allow you to create the mood of a calm flow of life. The curves of the contours emphasize the dynamics - the growth and movement of plants. The bizarre outlines of the flower, contrasting with the linearity of the leaves and stems, emphasize their beauty and luxury - irises, orchids, cyclamens, chrysanthemums, roses, etc. Iris becomes the emblem of Art Nouveau. They often use images of forest flowers - lilies of the valley, kupavka, dandelions, thistles, cornflowers, focusing on the charm of simplicity and everyday life.

Ceiling decoration in the Ryabushinsky mansion. Architect ShekhtelCeiling decoration in the Ryabushinsky mansion. Architect Shekhtel
Sample of decorative fabricSample of decorative fabric

The standard of Art Nouveau was the drawing by Herman Obrist (1895), which depicts a cyclamen with an ornate curved stem. The characteristic contour of the bend even got its own name - "the blow of the whip" - and was later actively used by artists.


The floral movement of Art Nouveau, Art Nouveau, was formed in France, with Paris and Nancy becoming its main centers. Paris was the leader in architecture, Nancy - in arts and crafts (especially in furniture and glass production). According to the canons of style, art should surround a person always and everywhere, each object should be unique at the same time. These commandments were followed by the masters of Art Nouveau, who laid the foundation for the spread of the new style.

One of these masters was the famous architect Emile Guimard. Until now, Parisians and tourists admire the sophistication and brevity of the design of the entrances of the Parisian metro, created according to his projects. He managed to give metal structures the shape of living plants. Such works, "animated" by the natural form, are called organogenic.

Registration of the entrance to the Parisian metro. Architect E. Guimard

The houses built according to the designs of Guimard in Paris and Schechtel in Russia can serve as examples of Art Nouveau architecture. International Parisian exhibitions, which enjoyed immense popularity and prestige, played a huge role in promoting the style. The number of visitors to Paris exhibitions reached 51 million people. One of the houses of Guimard - the Beranger hotel - became the object of the exposition of the international Paris exhibition in 1898.

Entrance to the Beranger hotel. Paris. Arch. GuimardFragment of the facade of the Beranger mansion. Paris. Arch. Guimard
Figure A. Flies

And the exhibition pavilion of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1900 was designed by another master of Art Nouveau - Alphonse Mucha, whose theatrical posters with female figures in flowing clothes and floral ornaments became the style canon.

The aim of Art Nouveau is to create a comfortable and beautiful living environment. That is why the complex design of buildings in the same style is in vogue - from the roof to the last nail. The architect designs the building “from the inside out”, first shaping the interior and only then moving on to the design of the building's façade, which often becomes asymmetrical.

Architecture and interior are interconnected and united by a common style expression. One of the characteristic features of Art Nouveau buildings is ceramic mosaic panels. This is how the friezes of houses are often decorated. A unified style of interior decoration leads to the creation of unique ensembles, including ceilings, lamps, wall panels, furniture sets and parquet floors.

The asymmetrical facade of the Ryabushinsky mansion. Architect ShekhtelFrieze of Ryabushinsky's mansion depicting orchids. Architect Shekhtel
Frieze of Ryabushinsky's mansion depicting orchids. Architect ShekhtelEntrance hall of Ryabushinsky's mansion. Stained glass in the Ryabushinsky mansion. Architect Shekhtel
Entrance hall of Ryabushinsky's mansion. Architect ShekhtelUniform decoration of walls, fireplace and doors in the living room of the Derozhinskaya mansion. Architect Shekhtel

In some cases, artists, creating a harmonious living environment, completely develop not only the interior, but even the home clothes of the owners. On this wave, leading figures appear, who were subject to everything: from the Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia to the ornament of the bench, from the palace to the window bolt in it..

The furniture of this period is characterized by a large number of various platforms - shelves, tables and whatnots - for placing decorative elements. But Art Nouveau found its maximum expression in arts and crafts. The idea of ​​growth and development - key in the philosophy of Art Nouveau - makes plants the most convenient and expressive motive for decoration. Art Nouveau does not strive for a three-dimensional image, preferring bizarre flat patterns, which is facilitated by the accepted conventionality of depicting plants.

Samples of ornaments and sketches of plants. Verney M.P.

Glass is becoming one of the most popular decorative elements. In this field, the French Emile Galle and the American Louis Comfort Tiffany succeeded and became famous. Tiffany's stained glass technique has gained particular popularity. The technology of joining pieces of colored glass using copper foil has made it possible to create bright, exquisite products. The unique works of Lalique and Faberge left an indelible mark on the jewelry art of this period. Faberge Easter eggs "Clover" and "Lilies of the valley", which invariably delight the audience, are a vivid example of the floral trend of Art Nouveau. The entire surface of the Clover egg is a continuous ornament of clover leaves.

Tiffany lampFaberge Easter egg

Emile Halle (1846-1904) was at the forefront of Art Nouveau. He supplemented the professional education of a designer with a deep knowledge of the philosophy and poetry of symbolism, botany and biology. Later, this knowledge will be embodied in his works by details of the image of plants and a philosophical understanding of nature. Knowledge of the poetry of symbolism will allow him not only to subtly feel, but also to weave the lines of his favorite poets - C. Baudelaire, S. Malarmé, P. Verlaine, F. Villon - into his products, which brought him fame as the author of "talking glass".

Galle was brought to the top of his glory by his vases made of laminated glass. At the Paris International Exhibition in 1898, his works were awarded the gold medal of the exhibition, and their author was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor.

In the drawings and ornaments of his works, there are often images of umbrella, wild orchids, levkoi, bindweed, rowan and currant leaves, as well as oriental motifs with pine branches and cones, sakura, birds and fish.

In Galle vases, there are from 2 to 5 layers of colored glass (usually three), creating different shades.The multilayer workpiece was etched, as a result of which a volumetric translucent pattern appeared, like on cameos, which was perfected by engraving. This "cameo glass" technique, which made Galle famous, was developed from the ancient Chinese technology of laminated carved glass. Galle vases are always heavy, with a polished disc at the bottom, allowing you to see the multi-layered structure of the product. Galle's works are full of romantic landscapes and ornaments of flowers, fruits, herbs and insects, creating together a unique pattern, in which the author's signature is organically woven.

Vase with wild orchids. E. GalleFern vase. C. 1904 E. Galle
Landscape vases. E. Galle. Storage location: The main headquarters of the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

By 1900, Emile Halle had reached the peak of his fame. Not a single self-respecting house, regardless of the level of wealth, could do without his products. Galle divided the products of his factory into three categories: serial, produced in industrial circulation, small-scale or "semi-luxurious" (demi-rich), as it was called, produced in small batches, and exclusive (Pieces uniques - unique products) or "luxurious", made by himself by Galle himself in a single copy, such as, for example, a vase with a dragon.

The first Romanian queen Elizabeth was a fan and patroness of Galle, who opened a branch of his factory in Romania. Unique vases personally donated by the author (such as Edelweiss, Honey Cup, Paradise Muse, Moonlight) laid the foundation for the collection of the Romanian royal house.

An excellent collection of Galle's works is kept in the General Staff Building of the St. Petersburg Hermitage. Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna were also fascinated by the work of Halle in 1896-1900. The Empress's chambers were decorated with his products. It is known that she specially selected her desk to place a vase with clematis on it, and Nicholas II was presented with pair vases with pink orchids as a gift from Lorraine. Some of Galle's products, by order of Alexandra Feodorovna, were set in silver by Faberge.

The Galle vases exhibited at the 1900 Paris World Exhibition were acquired by Baron A.L. Stieglitz, whose collection after the revolution increased the treasures of the Hermitage.

 Vase with a dragon. 1890s. E. GalleE. Galle lamp

Electricity, a novelty at the end of the 19th century, gave impetus to Halle's new work - the first glass lampshades and lamp holders. Made in the technique of marquetry or cameo, illuminated from the inside and giving a subdued light, they made a splash in the market. Many models of table lamps were created by Gallé in collaboration with Louis Majorelle, who made artistic frames for glass.

In 1901, on the initiative of Halle, the Alliance Provinciale des Industries d'Art was created, which united small local workshops producing products of decorative and applied arts, and gave impetus to the development of the art industry of the whole region.

Nancy furniture. Storage location: Museum of Decorative Arts. Paris

Later, the Alliance will be named School of Nancy (L'Ecole de Nancy), after the name of the art school of design, created in the Alliance and existed for more than 10 years. Over time, the name "School of Nancy" became associated with the center of the production of Art Nouveau products. The School's emblem was the Lorraine cross and thistle, symbolizing endurance.

The huge variety of high-class artwork produced by Alliance members has earned the School fame at international exhibitions and public recognition in Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, America and Russia.

Halle's success was contagious. His example was followed by the Dom brothers, members of the Alliance, whose glass factory Daum Freres & Cie. Verreries de Nancy ”is still flourishing. In 1889, they began the industrial production of vases with plant designs. Their products are distinguished by a more naturalistic image. The list of processing techniques was practically the same as that of Halle, mass production lacked only the sophistication of shades and overflows of color. Cameo glass vases and lamps were the most popular of their entire range of products.

Vase from the brothers' factory Dom. Storage location: The main headquarters of the Hermitage, St. PetersburgVases from the brothers' factory Dom. Storage location: The main headquarters of the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Having achieved popularity with the help of cameo glass, Galle could not stay away from the creation of furniture. Due to the complexity of processing, it was created only as unique or "semi-luxurious", according to the gradation of Galle himself. Furniture was made of rosewood, oak, maple, walnut, fruit species - apple, pear. The master gave preference to local tree species growing in Lorraine. Relief inlay with different types of wood and the obligatory manual processing of details distinguished his products. For decoration Galle used natural motives, butterflies and dragonflies. In his opinion, "The decor of modern furniture, closely associated with nature, cannot remain insensitive to the nobility of natural forms."

In addition to inlays, many carved elements appear in his works. The shape often becomes asymmetrical, and the legs of objects for the first time take the form of dragonflies or frog legs, or are decorated with floral ornaments.

Typesetting table with legs in the form of dragonflies. Around 1900 E. Galle. Storage location: The main headquarters of the Hermitage, St. Petersburg

1909 was the last year that works by members of the School of Nancy were exhibited together. Art Nouveau, with its sophisticated, expensive pieces that sought exclusivity, gave way to a more economically viable Art Deco style with the mass production of cheap art pieces.

In 1964, the Nancy School Museum was opened. Most of the museum's exhibits are examples of unique furniture, stained glass and Art Nouveau glass. The garden of the museum is decorated with the oak door of the Galle workshop, made in 1897 by the cabinetmaker Eugene Wallen. It is decorated with carved chestnut leaves and Emile Galle's motto “My roots are deep in the forest”, which reflects all of his work.

At the end of the 1990s, the School resumed its existence, and 1999 was declared the year of the School of Nancy. In 2013, the exhibition “Emile Galle. Glass Rhapsody ”, where one could get acquainted with the work of Galle.

Over time, the floral trend of Art Nouveau, carrying the ideas of renewal and beauty in everyday life, began to be associated with Art Nouveau in general. The stylized image of flowers and bizarrely curved lines each time return us to the era of the Silver Age, giving us the joy of communicating with nature and art.

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