Siegfried 'Samuel' Bing
Siegfried Bing was an art dealer who was very influential in introducing Japanese art and artworks to the West and in developing the Art Nouveau style in the late 19th century through his gallery in Paris, the Maison de l’Art Nouveau. The South Kensington Museum bought Japanese and Chinese objects from Bing from 1875 onwards.
Siegfried Bing was born in Hamburg in 1838 and moved to France in 1854, where he lived for the rest of his life. Initially he worked in the Bing family ceramics manufacturing business, but from the 1870s began successfully importing and selling Japanese and other Asian art objects through galleries in the Rue Chauchat, and later in the Rue de Provence in Paris. In 1895 his gallery was redesigned as the Maison de l’Art Nouveau, with windows by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Louis Comfort Tiffany. This sold contemporary art objects with a Japanese influence, in what came to be known as the Art Nouveau style. From 1875 onwards the South Kensington Museum bought Japanese and Chinese bronzes and porcelain, and later Art Nouveau objects from Bing.
In 1875 the Museum’s representative wrote from Paris of a proposed purchase of bronze vases: ‘The great rarity in shape, in ornamentation, and in colour and quality of patina which these vases present, renders such a collection valuable to the Art Museum as eminently suggestive to the designer and the manufacturer’. This was in accordance with the Museum’s policy of displaying inspiring examples of good design. Bing closed his gallery in 1904, a year before his death.
Information in the V&A Archive
MA/1/B1403: Nominal file – Bing, S.
MA/31/5: Register of loans in
ED 84/36: Précis of the Board minutes of the Science and Art Department, vol. II and III, 1863-1877
ED 84/38: Précis of the Board minutes of the Science and Art Department, vol. V, 1881-1883
ED 84/40: Précis of the Board minutes of the Science and Art Department, 1888-1892
Selected printed works
Bing, S. Artistic Japan: a monthly illustrated journal of arts and industries. London: Sampson Law, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1888-1891. NAL pressmark: PP.9.SLW
Exhibition of l'art nouveau: S. Bing, Paris. [London]: Grafton Galleries, . NAL pressmark: 200.BG
Weisberg, Gabriel P. ‘Siegfried Bing's facades: the marketing of an art nouveau.’ In Art nouveau: an architectural indulgence. London: Andreas Papadakis Publisher in collaboration with The Victoria & Albert Museum, 2000. NAL pressmark: VA.2000.0015
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