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Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau and Art Deco Spotlight

6th August 2020

Just two of the many periods Nimbus Antiques offers fine collectables from include the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. For those normally interested in more historic antique furniture, collectables from the 20th century are not to be overlooked. Art Nouveau and Art Deco quality finds can be supremely desirable and collectable.

In this our latest blog, we compare and contrast the two modernist periods and share tips on what to look for if you’re considering buying lamps from the relevant decades. We also shine a spotlight on some of the select Art Nouveau and Art Deco furniture and lamps that are available to view and buy from Nimbus Antiques.

Distinct, notable 20th-century movements

Both distinct and notable periods in their own right, these neighbouring movements each have a style of their own, whilst bridging the 19th Century with modern times. The flowing lines of the Art Nouveau period dissipated when the sober tones of wartime Europe lead to the strikingly modern objects of the Art Deco period. Both periods have been hugely influential to 20th-century artists, design furniture and interiors and burgeoned in response to landmark events.

Art Nouveau, 1880 – 1914

Art Nouveau was celebrated between 1880 and 1914; coming into being after the Industrial Revolution. Melding fine arts including sculpture and painting with applied arts in an exciting new way. A leading artist Victor Horta completed the now renowned Hotel Tassel in Belgium in 1893, and the influence moved quickly to Paris. Hector Guimard designed the Paris Metro signs, which are still iconic today were heavily influenced by Horta’s architecture.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh, based in Scotland at the time who was also an acclaimed architect and one of the four founding collective members of the Modern Style is notable to mention. They made a significant impact on Art Nouveau with their Celtic and Arts and Crafts-inspired decorative design. And being so noticeably decorative is the way in which Art Nouveau pieces stand apart from The Art Deco period which followed.

Art Deco, 1920 – 1940

Art Deco emerged after World War I and thrived from 1920 to 1940. This between-war style gained widespread exposure at a Paris exhibition in 1925 – called The Exposition Internationale des Arts Devoratifs et Industriels Modernes. The exhibition featured pieces in new materials such as plastics and laminates, made with new industrial processes. Objects tended to be brightly coloured and decorated with geometric and angular shapes. The Art Deco look was hugely popular and production techniques meant more people could access designs to have glamorous things at affordable prices at home.

Both periods’ modernist elements bring a sharpness to their designs which are easy to identify because of their contrasting styles. Art Deco is a cleaner style of design compared to Art Nouveau – known for its flourishes and flowing lines. The Art Deco period perhaps reflected a streamlining and development of speeding cars and trains in the same period as well as being influenced by jazz, world athletics and travel which were also in vogue at the time.

Collecting 20th Century, vintage and retro pieces to complement antiques

Contemporary and retro fashions may have been in and out of vogue over the last few decades, but recently, as interior design and styling have become a growing specialism, there continues to be a lot of love for both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements.

Furniture and lamps of these periods are especially popular if they fit into smaller spaces or are able to fit into eclectic design schemes. As we delve into collecting tips in more detail towards the end of this blog, remember, quality always shines through, which we are always careful to ensure at Nimbus Antiques.

Art Deco and Art Nouveau lamps especially are beacons of the contemporary stylish eras. With the Surrey town of Godalming being the world’s first place to gain a public electricity supply in 1881, and electrical supply spreading through the country and world too, lamps moved into years of what is now considered somewhat of a design and production heyday.

By 1936 over 12,000 places had electricity in the UK and electricity itself symbolised modernity – especially throughout the 1930s as a result of the marketing strategy of the time. But considering lampshades are in vogue again, is it easy to spot an original or could you be caught out by a clever reproduction?

Tips for buying antique and collectable vintage lamps

  • Examine the condition of each lamp thoroughly to consider if any damage exists and if it does, could it be fixed or restored easily? Or are you buying the piece for use in your home and you’re comfortable with the damage which could simply be due to previous use over the years?
  • Identify the maker or manufacturer to ascertain its quality and history. Is it a celebrated designer of its time or a lesser-known local maker who produced smaller batches of work which could make it more rare? There could be a date stamp or hallmark on the base or elsewhere on the lamp which will help you identify the production year.
  • Look for lamps with original shades and if there isn’t a hallmark you can research the style by pouring over books or searching for similar pieces online.
  • Double check the dealer or private seller has had an electrician check the piece and it’s in fine working order.
  • The desirability and value of any piece is also determined by how in vogue or fashionable it is and has been. Whether era, decade, movement or period is in vogue also plays a part in its value
  • If there is provenance of note, such as the item having a proven history of a famous owner, the monetary value will be boosted further.
  • Consider from the outset, why are you collecting or currently looking for antique or vintage collectables? If you are looking to buy a beautiful piece to enjoy in your home, let this be your prime motivating factor. If you are looking for an investment opportunity, approach it accordingly.
  • Don’t be fooled by fakes which could be on the market; read our blog on how to spot fakes which has handy hints for detecting the good, the bad and the ugly pieces out there.

Art Nouveau and Deco pieces for sale at Nimbus Antiques

With prices ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds, we have a small collection of fine pieces from the movements available. Including umbrella stands, a striking magazine rack, stylish floor lamp, mirror, chairs, settee, a stunning cabinet with mirrors, music cabinet and cocktail cake stand on wheels, you can click through our gallery for inspiration and get in touch to arrange a viewing.

Managing director of Nimbus Antiques explains: “Style never goes out of fashion, and each of these pieces will add character to your home. The floor lamp is a very attractive piece comprised of brass and copper which is clearly influenced by the Art Nouveau period proceeding the date of its making in 1920, the start of the Art Deco period. This piece is in excellent working condition.

From the Art Nouveau period, we have a simply stunning pair of chairs made circa 1900, they have been restored and revived in our workshop and are ready to use at home. In fact, all of these pieces including the lamps work well together should you want to revamp or establish a living room wholly inspire by these times.

View all Art Nouveau Antiques

View all Art Deco Antiques

Buying from Nimbus Antiques

All pieces for sale across our two-floor showroom are lovingly cared for and restored. Our showroom is based in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire. Direct trains from London reach Macclesfield which is close by – making us within reach of London based collectors. We also offer a pick-up service from the train station to shuttle you here upon request.

Please note, the shop and showroom are open from Monday to Friday, but we ask you to visit by prior appointment only on Saturdays and Sundays. Please do email us or call with any queries you have regarding any collectables you’re interested in buying in the meantime.

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Featured Image by anaterate via Pixabay

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