I've received enough reader comments to know that a little education about antiques is appreciated, at least in small doses. That's why I'm introducing a series, titled "Expand Your Vintage Vocbulary", in which I'll showcase a special "vintage" term and define it for you. I know you could just go to Wikipedia to learn such things, but I'll try to showcase terms that will be useful to people like us and show you an example from my own antiques business so you can relate to it more readily.
Today's term is "Art Nouveau", which is a French term meaning "New Art". The peak years for this style were 1890 to 1905. Art Nouveau is characterized by stylized natural motifs and flowing, curvilinear forms. Artist Alphonse Mucha's art is instantly recognizeable and is the epitome of Art Nouvea style:
You can easily own something with Art Nouveau style. These jewelry caskets are easy to find at just about any antique store. I sold this one recently in my Etsy shop:
Another wonderful poster, this one from a 1902 exhibition:
This graceful candle holder typifies Art Nouveau style. It's for sale in my booth at the Antiques Market of Williamston, Michigan:
This doorway in Prague shows some wonderful Nouveau style:
Flowing lines are rather hard to achieve in large buildings, but the Casa Batllo in Barcelona, Spain, has managed to do it:
The Barceloneans call the hotel "Casas dels Ossos" (House of Bones).
Another small jewelry casket, also recently sold in my Etsy shop:
Art Nouveau style was actually more popular in Europe and Great Britain than in the U.S., but I think it's appreciated equally everywhere now. Just for contrast, let's compare Art Nouveau to Art Deco, a style that would appear a decade or two later. In the painting below, by Tamara De Lempicka, notice how the hair, the girl's neck, and the ruffles of the dress are rendered in such a chunky, geometric manner. Not at all like the flowing Art Nouveau style:
Did that mini-lesson help define Art Nouveau for you? I hope you can feel a bit more confident when you are "out in the field". You'll be surprised what your eyes will be drawn to once you have learned something new (or should I say nouveau?)