Art Nouveau Bronzes - A Guide From Canonbury Antiques in London

Relevant categories: Art Deco,Bronzes


Art Nouveau Bronzes

The art nouveau movement sprang in the late 19th century and continued for the better part of the early 20th century. It defined architecture and decorative arts during that time. Some of the items developed back then bronze sculptures. Known as art nouveau bronze sculptures, these pieces came in different styles. In parts of Britain, art nouveau was referred to as Glasgow Style while in Germany, it was known as Jugendstil.

Paul Manship bronze lady - classic art nouveau bronze

By and large, the purpose of art nouveau was to modernize design and escape from the eclectic styles of the past century. Mostly, artists were inspired by both geometric and natural forms. As such, art nouveau bronze sculptures were defined by geometric contours coupled with natural forms.


Art Nouveau sconce bronze candelabras

Transcending architecture, sculpture, and other art forms, this movement was started to topple the traditional hierarchy of the arts. The proponents of this school of thought were not happy with the elevation that sculpture, painting, and other liberal arts had over decorative arts. The style was to carry on into the 1920s when art deco became the trend. After years of lying low, the art nouveau movement sprang back in the 1960s and is thought to have preceded modernism.

Art Nouveau and the Beauty of Nature

Art Nouveau bronze bust

To reiterate, art nouveau bronze sculptures were created to imitate nature. Thus, many of them were created with accompanying floral ornaments and novel artistic forms. That’s why you will find images of water lilies, sculptures of women with extraordinarily long hair. By so doing, the artists sought to create the ideal for harmony and beauty. Apart from sculptures featuring humans, you will also find depictions of dragonflies, bugs, swans, peacocks, and so on. It was not just art for the sake of it, but one that represented the surroundings within which the artist lived.


Perhaps the most famous art nouveau bronze - the Flying Lady Rolls Royce mascot

(Above photo: Perhaps the most famous art nouveau bronze - the Flying Lady Rolls Royce mascot )

Additionally, art nouveau involved the depiction of moving water, vines, waves and other natural motifs. It is not uncommon to find an art nouveau bronze that features these motifs. Other popular motifs include plants and animals.
When it comes to other products such as furniture, art nouveau emphasized on functionality more than anything else. This spread to architecture where facades on buildings had to clearly show the purpose for which it was constructed. Here, symmetry and linear arrangement of items was a must.

Characteristics of the Art Nouveau Style

Classic Rolls Royce Flying Lady bronze by Charles Sykes

(Above photo: Classic Rolls Royce Flying Lady bronze by Charles Sykes )

When examined closely, art nouveau borrowed a lot from many of the styles from previous centuries. However, there were some inherent characteristics that were unique to this style. Due to its opposition against historicism, art nouveau abhorred anything considered familiar or traditional.  Thus artists strove to invent a unique style that had never been seen before. As such, they sought to encompass all existing arts into this new style. In art nouveau bronze sculptures, you can easily notice geometric figures as well as floral elements. Also, these pieces of art had sweeping elements, curved lines, and breaks in symmetric sequences.

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