Throughout the history of art and design there have been a great many different styles, all championed by different characters. My favourite is the Art Nouveau style.
Art Nouveau describes a style used in architecture and the arts from the last decade of the 19th
century and into the early years of the 20th century and it had essentially two main aims.
One was a rejection of the historical retrospective styles so prominent in the latter half of the 19th century. Art Nouveau was of the here and now and the future, not an imitation of past styles. However the style did at times use ideas and motifs of medieval origin.
The other aim was a rejection of another trend, that of naturalism, which was basically an imitation
or copy of the natural world and everyday life. Art Nouveau did embrace nature but not in the form
of imitation. Some of the most characteristic and recognisable images of Art Nouveau are the
undulating or waving lines and the stylised foliage motifs.
The style, as with all styles, does have many variations and these depend on several factors,
including country of production, techniques and materials. Also many items produced did not live
up to the aspirations of the style. Many, for example, included too many New-Classical influences
or relied too heavily on Japanese or Eastern themes.
Art Nouveau can provide a wealth of collecting themes. There are many well known names to be found including Galle, an important artist in the French Art Nouveau who is known for his polychrome glass vases; Tiffany from New York who also did wonderful things with glass and Lalique who truly raised the level of applied arts with his ability to turn even a piece of jewellery into an intricate work of art.
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
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The glass market was moving forward, old techniques such as acid etching and enamelling were being adapted to create new styles and new products to fit changing lifestyles and habits. The perfume bottle was a perfect example.
Rene Lalique (1860-1945) began his career designing jewellery, he began working with glass in the 1890s and opened his first glass shop in Paris on the square “Place Vendôme” in 1905. His work caught the eye of perfumer Franҫois Coty who had a shop nearby and Coty invited Lalique into a partnership initially designing labels for his perfumes and later the glass bottles. Their partnership revolutionised the perfume industry; it was the first time perfumes were packaged in distinctive bottles evocative of the fragrance contained within and it was a huge success. By the 1920s Lalique has three factories and produced exquisite perfume bottles for over 60 fashionable and desirable perfumers.
The perfume bottles in highest demand now are the more unusual or abstract with inventive designs and forms. Most bottles had modern and stylized designs following the Art Deco style. Early examples feature more flowing lines, floral designs and figural etching. Some bottles were formed in bold shapes with oversized decorative stoppers, occasionally more than one stopper could be designed for a bottle.
Bottles that are sealed with their original contents remaining or bottles with their original outer packaging still intact are considerably more valuable and thus more popular amongst collectors. Bottles made or designed after 1945 will not feature the initial “R” in their mark as this was never used after Rene Lalique’s death. The “R” is often added to later pieces to make them appear earlier and thus more desirable, so beware.
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website