Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau

Collecting Art Nouveau has a long tradition at the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt. The first permanent exhibition already opened in 1965 and Darmstadt was then one of the few places in Germany where examples of Art Nouveau applied arts could be viewed. The collection now encompasses objects from across Europe and the United States. Over 400 examples of glass and ceramics, furniture, textiles as well as small bronze and silversmith works by nearly all the renowned artists from the time around 1900 document this movement’s creative diversity. Numerous extraordinary works from Belgium, England, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Russia, Scandinavia and naturally Germany are featured among the holdings, including works by Emile Gallé and the School of Nancy, by Hector Guimard, Otto Eckmann, Richard Riemerschmid, Louis C. Tiffany, the members of the Darmstadt artist colony and the Wiener Werkstätte. Internationally famous are Henry van de Velde’s furniture, the textile pictures by Aristide Maillol, Paul Ranson and Emile Bernard as well as the unique collection of Art Nouveau jewellery. Featuring over 250 pieces of jewellery by René Lalique, Georges Fouqet, Philippe Wolfers, the Fabergé company, Georg Jensen, Hans Christiansen, Ernst Riegel and many others, it is one of the largest collections of its kind in the world.


Dr. Wolfgang Glüber
T 06151 1657-011

Two storks, enamelled in their natural colours, are entwined around a circular medallion with bright green mistletoes and the inscription “L'an neuf” in red against a yellow background. This unit hangs on chains and is studded with a chrysoprase, a brown brilliant and 21 diamonds. As is so often the case with Art Nouveau, the value of this piece of jewellery is made up not so much by its precious materials as by the originality of its invention. It is surely based on a West European design insofar as typical Art Nouveau works are very rare among the wide range of products made by Fabergé. Fabergé and Bolin, the two leading goldsmiths in Moscow and St. Petersburg, often employed designs by French artists. The pendant was probably intended as a very valuable New Years’ gift because it cites the New Years’ greetings of French farmers: Au gui l'an neuf.

Paris was the undisputed capital of the art of jewellery around 1900. Of the great jewellery designers working there at that time, especially René Lalique stands out, whose imaginative creations was enthusiastically admired around the world. He not only created completely new worlds of motifs but also circumvented the then applicable principles of the jeweller’s art by combining coloured enamel with precious stones and precious stones with inexpensive material, for example horn, in his continuous search for the artistic values of a pieces of jewellery that did not necessarily have to be identical with its material value.

In this skilfully worked gold and plique-à-jour-enamel brooch, Lalique plays with a motivic deception. At first glance one only sees a blossom, but upon closer examination it becomes obvious that the supposed blossom is formed from five cobra heads whose pronotums make up the leaves.

In 1900, representatives of the Darmstadt State Arts and Crafts Association travelled to the Exposition Universelle in Paris to acquire works for the local Applied Arts Museum. At the stand of Siegfried Bing, the owner of the “Art Nouveau” gallery, they purchased this glass mosaic featuring the two swimming goldfish produced by the Tiffany Studios in New York. The design for this inlay work that was heavily influenced by Japanese prototypes has been attributed in recent years to Clara Driscoll, the head of Tiffany’s glass cutting workshops. The pictorial motif of the fish swimming in water was produced by using pieces of glass with differing décors that seems nearly like a pattern sheet for the wide variety of Tiffany’s typical opalescent glass. This technique was also employed for other small-format mosaic pictures from the Tiffany workshop; these consequently appear more artistically defamiliarised and abstract than the lamps and stained glass windows produced at the same time, which are more closely oriented on the model of nature.