The organic form of Art Nouveau, like Arts and Crafts before it, was regarded as an antidote to mechanisation and the effects of mass production between the 1880s and the start of the First World War.
The philosophy of Art Nouveau evolved from William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement but the style was penned through the shop of a German dealer, Samuel Bing who named his Parisian shop L’Art Nouveau. His shop presented a showcase of paintings, glass, ceramics and furniture which promoted the naturalistic flowing designs of plant like forms that have become so typical with Art Nouveau. This unmistakeable look can be seen in mahogany bureaux of the time designed by Louis Majorelle where flowing tapered legs and whiplash lines in mahogany on the main body of pieces are contrasted with ormolu mounts and garnitures of orchids and other flower motifs on legs and handles.
Both Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau as movements were reacting to the loss of individual skill with the advancement of mass production. Arts and Crafts looked more to the practical and the celebration of the artisan in creating furniture where Art Nouveau was concerned more with aesthetics and the visual effect of the piece. In fact William Morris perceived Art Nouveau as too decorative although many motifs were included in Arts and Crafts furniture design. It was Charles Rennie Mackintosh from the Glasgow School that introduced a more geometric influence into Art Nouveau.
The straighter lines of Arts and Crafts and the more typical flowing whiplash lines of Art Nouveau antique furniture can be found in many Lancashire and London dealerships.
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