Is there still a place for Art Nouveau in period interiors?
The Art Nouveau style flourished between 1890 and 1910 and, although it was short lived, its influence was huge. In this blog we introduce you to some of our Art Nouveau style lighting that we believe can be incorporated sympathetically into traditional period homes.
Art Nouveau was unlike anything that had gone before and was considered cutting edge, even controversial, at the time. Translating from the French it means ‘New Art’ and was a progressive international movement that touched all aspects of the aesthetic world, notably architecture, painting, ceramics, glassware, jewellery, sculpture and metalwork.
Although Art Nouveau originated in France, the style became popular all over Europe and the Western world. In the UK it was sometimes referred to as the ‘Glasgow Style’ after the celebrated designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. In the USA it was frequently called ‘Tiffany Style’ after the well-known glass maker Louis Comfort Tiffany. In Italy it was known as ‘stile floreal’ (floral style) whilst in Spain it was simply referred to as ‘modernismo’
Here are a few of the more well known exponents of the Art Nouveau style
Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) was a Czech painter, illustrator and graphic artist who lived in Paris during the Art Nouveau period. One of the most defining artists of the era, best known for his stylised posters and advertisements.
Hector Guimard (1867-1942) was a French architect whose designs embody the essence of the French Art Nouveau movement. He designed many of the entrances to the Paris Metro which are now regarded as major works of this period. Shown below are some of our Hector collection of Tiffany glass lights that have been inspired by his works and named in his honour.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Glasgow born Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was hugely talented, turning his hand to architecture, furniture and textile design as well as being an exceptional artist.
This building was one of Glasgow’s most iconic landmarks for over 100 years. It was designed in the Art Nouveau style by Charles Rennie Mackintosh between 1897 and 1909 and formed part of the Glasgow School of Art. Sadly it was badly damaged by a fire in 2014 and totally destroyed a few years later in 2018 by a second fire. Rubble is still being cleared from the site today and hopefully it will be re-built in due course.
The genius of Charles Rennie Mackintosh went largely unrecognised during his lifetime and in his later years he turned his attention to painting. Two examples of his work are shown above.
Our stunning Hutchinson lighting collection (shown below) features a beautiful Art Nouveau design with a border of plum coloured Mackintosh style flowers and pale green leaves, all on a cream background. These lights are skillfully hand crafted using fine art glass and are a fitting tribute to Mackintosh’s remarkable talent.
Louis Comfort Tiffany
Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) was the son of a prominent American jewellery retailer. He became an innovative and artistic interior designer who built up his own business designing stained glass windows. He came up with the idea of recycling the high quality pieces of glass discarded during the manufacture of the windows to form beautiful decorative lamps. As the lamps became fashionable in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s his unique style was at the forefront of the developing Art Nouveau style in the USA.
This is one of the astonishing collection of 25 Louis Comfort Tiffany stained-glass windows that illuminate St. Peter’s Chapel on Mare Island, California
Tiffany lights need no introduction. These iconic lamps are wonderful in traditional Victorian and Edwardian interiors. The dragonfly motif, so commonly associated with Tiffany lighting, is depicted on the examples shown above. The exquisite detailing includes delicate fretwork surrounding the dragonfly wings. An original Tiffany lamp will cost you an arm and a leg but fortunately we have some super quality reproduction Tiffany lighting for you to choose from.
To read our blogs on Tiffany lighting simply use the links below
In Britain, Art Nouveau was heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement championed by the likes of William Morris, architect Charles Voysey and John Ruskin, one of the greatest visionaries of the 19th century. Arts and Crafts designers turned their backs on the advances in mechanised mass production and instead championed a return to more traditional craftsmanship.
William Morris (1834-1896) was a textile designer, poet, novelist and social activist who was associated with the British Arts and Crafts movement. He was a huge influence in the revival of the traditional methods of textile production. As he famously said ‘
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
It is easy to see the similarities between Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau when you see these beautiful William Morris designs. His designs are still popular today and you will see many of his fabrics and wallpapers in traditional period homes.
To take a look at our Arts and Crafts lighting collection click here or use the link below
Art Nouveau designers also promoted the creative and decorative arts but in a style that was decidedly more organic. Their designs drew inspiration from the natural world and featured strong, stylistic, yet free flowing curves exaggerating those found in flowers, trees, butterflies and birds.
This beautiful Art Nouveau staircase can be found inside the Petite Palais in Paris. This building was designed by Charles Girault (1851 to 1932) and built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition. It is now a museum.
Many Art Nouveau artists incorporated glass into their designs, something that proved a godsend when it came to creating beautiful lamps and light fittings. Add to this the advancements in electric light bulbs, fabric shades and alabaster style glass it is easy to see how light fittings were becoming more decorative desirable objects
These two wonderful examples show just how attractive the original Art Nouveau light fittings were. A combination of beautiful metalwork and stunning glass shades.
The onset of World War 1 led to a decline in all artistic production. By end of the war the new Art Deco age had dawned and Art Nouveau was largely forgotten. Although the 20-year period when Art Nouveau was in its heyday is now over 100 years ago, it is well acknowledged that it left its mark on the future of interior design and lighting. If you need any more convincing have a look at a few of our fabulous Art Nouveau style lights.
The Kami is a lovely flush fit ceiling light hand crafted in American art glass. In an Art Nouveau floral pattern in hues of amber, caramel, ginger and emerald green, it is the perfect choice for lighting in rooms with lower ceilings. Stunning Tiffany style fitting that is wonderful viewed from below with the two bulbs hidden inside the shade.
Snowdrop is an Art Nouveau style Victorian or Edwardian chandelier made in the UK from solid brass with a hand waxed antique finish designed to replicate a restored period light fitting. The 5 lights are carried on on curved arms with delicate snowdrop detailing and the fitting is finished with the charming fluted lily glass shades in warm buttermilk and green.
A pretty Art Nouveau hanging uplighter ceiling pendant with a matching wall light. The Topkapi collection features attractive petal like shades in a warm creamy amber glass that is perfect for traditional interiors
What a true delight this Tiffany style ceiling pendant is. Designed in the classic Art Nouveau style , the Rosecliffe pendant has a floral border of stylised roses depicted in deep and pale pinks with green leaves on a background of buttery creams. The delightful tulip shaped shade is painstakingly hand crafted from 612 pieces of art glass using traditional copper foil techniques in much the same way as the original Tiffany lights.
The Fleur de Lys single wall light, made in the UK, can be fitted in both up and down modes. Made in solid brass with a natural aged tarnish which has been waxed and buffed by hand to give the finish of a restored antique. The arm has delicate Art Nouveau detailing and the light is supplied with the adjustable fluted amber glass shade.
The Demelza wall light with its romantic, old world charm has been inspired by traditional Art Nouveau shapes. It featuring a shapely, clear cut glass shade, braided cord cable and brushed brass metalwork. With its IP44 rating it can safely be used in bathrooms as well as in other rooms around the home
The Ingram wall light draws it inspiration from the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. An uplighter style fitting that will create warm pools of light on the wall, giving a lovely background lighting effect in period homes. The shade has a pale cream background with a border of pale greens that feature the classic Mackintosh pink stylised rose. Looks equally as good when not illuminated – rather like having an additional picture on the wall.
The aptly named Cobalt Tiffany style table lamp is a real stunner and just perfect for a traditional Victorian or Edwardian sitting room. The exquisite shade has a blue hydrangea motif hand crafted using 1099 individual pieces of high quality art glass in shades of lavender, green and mellow cream, which accentuates the bold piercing blue of the hydrangea flowers. Quality Tiffany lighting often featured metal chain light pulls and this lamp is no exception – this not only creates an authentic feel but allows you to control the light level.
The Elizabetta is a traditionally designed table lamp made in the UK from solid brass with a waxed antique finish. Lady lamps like this that depicted the female form were popular during the late Victorian and Edwardian eras and are associated with the the Art Nouveau movement. The lamp is completed by the iridescent pink scaled Tiffany glass shade
These two Tiffany style lamps both utilize the same Art Nouveau style base. The Belle lamp on the left has an organic leaf pattern in lush green mixed with forest colours and offers the perfect blend of natural elegance and traditional appeal. The Kings Pointe lamp on the right features a gently flowing pattern of rich reds and pale greens on a buttery cream background. Tiffany lights never seem to go out of fashion and they sit extremely well in period homes and will surely be treasured for generations to come.
Our final selection showcases two standard lamps. The traditional Jamelia floor lamp on the left has a sculptured Tiffany style glass shade in a flowing Art Nouveau design using soft organic colours. A subtle floral pattern with green leaves and amber jewelled flowers and buds with a scalloped edge border in emerald green all on a neutral background. On the right is the rather more vibrant Josette standard lamp which features a brightly coloured uplighter shade with orange and yellow flowers, highlighted with greens and blues. Both these lamps feature the dark bronze bases that were used on original Tiffany lamps.
So, do we think there is still a place for Art Nouveau in traditional interiors? Most definitely we believe there is! Here at Bespoke Lights this beautiful style is very popular with designers and customers alike. Art Nouveau lighting is the perfect fit for those who wish to add a touch of timeless beauty to their traditional homes.
If you would like to see more of our Art Nouveau lighting -click here or use the link below.