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Art Nouveau

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Decorative, sensual, and uncompromising, Art Nouveau ('New Art') emerged as a dynamic and expressive style in the visual arts from the early 1890s to the First World War. Taking its inspiration from the natural world, its characteristic motifs include delicate tendrils, organic forms, swooping, swirling lines, eccentric geometry and exotic bodies.

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Viewed by some as the first self-conscious attempt to create a modern style, Art Nouveau steadily developed across Europe and America, and can be seen in painting, sculpture, jewellery, metalwork, glass and ceramics of the period. The seductive drawings of Aubrey Beardsley, the curvaceous architecture of Victor Horta and Paul Hankar and the ornate poster designs of Alphonse Mucha are some of the most familiar examples of the Art Nouveau style.

Exploring Art Nouveau

Photo of Set of two paper knives, fruit knife and six coffee spoons, Prince  Bojidar Karageorgevitch, about 1900, France. Museum no. CIRC.140 to 149-1964. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Set of two paper knives, fruit knife and six coffee spoons, Prince Bojidar Karageorgevitch, about 1900, France. Museum no. CIRC.140 to 149-1964. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Tiara comb and bodice ornament, Rene Lalique, 1903 – 4, France. Museum nos. M.116 to 116A-1966. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Tiara comb and bodice ornament, Rene Lalique, 1903 – 4, France. Museum nos. M.116 to 116A-1966. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Poster advertising La Plume, Alphonse Mucha, 1897, France. Museum no. E.589-1953. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Poster advertising La Plume, Alphonse Mucha, 1897, France. Museum no. E.589-1953. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of The Prey, vase, designed by Auguste Ledru, made by Susse Frères, 1895, France. Museum no. M.24-1998. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Prey, vase, designed by Auguste Ledru, made by Susse Frères, 1895, France. Museum no. M.24-1998. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Cabinet, Louis Majorelle, about 1900, France. Museum no. 1999:1 to 4-1900. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Cabinet, Louis Majorelle, about 1900, France. Museum no. 1999:1 to 4-1900. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Poster advertising Job cigarette paper, Alphonse Mucha, 1898. Museum no. E.260-1921. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Poster advertising Job cigarette paper, Alphonse Mucha, 1898. Museum no. E.260-1921. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Armchair, Louis Majorelle, 1899 – 1900, France. Museum no. 2001-1900. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Armchair, Louis Majorelle, 1899 – 1900, France. Museum no. 2001-1900. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Desk, Hector Guimard, about 1895, France. Museum no. W.15-1971. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Desk, Hector Guimard, about 1895, France. Museum no. W.15-1971. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Favrile vase, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, manufactured by Stourbridge Glass Co., about 1895, US. Museum no. C.58-1972. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Favrile vase, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, manufactured by Stourbridge Glass Co., about 1895, US. Museum no. C.58-1972. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Bowl, made by Alexandre Bigot with silver-gilt mount by Edouard Colonna, 1895, France. Museum no. 1700-1900. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Bowl, made by Alexandre Bigot with silver-gilt mount by Edouard Colonna, 1895, France. Museum no. 1700-1900. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Duval Janvier plaquette, Alexandre-Louis-Marie Charpentier, 1902, France. Museum no. A.32-1978. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Duval Janvier plaquette, Alexandre-Louis-Marie Charpentier, 1902, France. Museum no. A.32-1978. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Cast iron balcony front, Hector Guimard, about 1900, France. Museum no. M.120-1984. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Cast iron balcony front, Hector Guimard, about 1900, France. Museum no. M.120-1984. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of The Climax, print, Aubrey Beardsley, 1894, England. Museum no. E.436-1972. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Climax, print, Aubrey Beardsley, 1894, England. Museum no. E.436-1972. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Silver fruit basket, designed by Josef Hoffmann, made by Wiener Werkstätte, 1904, Austria. Museum no. M.40-1972. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Silver fruit basket, designed by Josef Hoffmann, made by Wiener Werkstätte, 1904, Austria. Museum no. M.40-1972. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Kimberley furnishing fabric, designed by Harry Napper for The Silver Studio, about 1902, England. Museum no. CIRC.250-1966. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Kimberley furnishing fabric, designed by Harry Napper for The Silver Studio, about 1902, England. Museum no. CIRC.250-1966. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Design for The Golden Lion public house, 1899 – 1900, England. Museum no. E.395:24-2006. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Design for The Golden Lion public house, 1899 – 1900, England. Museum no. E.395:24-2006. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Cabaret du Chat Noir, poster, designed by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, printed by Charles Verneau, 1896, France. Museum no. E.321-1978. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Cabaret du Chat Noir, poster, designed by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, printed by Charles Verneau, 1896, France. Museum no. E.321-1978. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Learn more about Art Nouveau