Science and The Art Nouveau – Part One

Ipsen Danish Art Nouveau Ceramic Vase with Stalking Dragon and Scarab

The Art Nouveau Movement, which translates to “The New Style” or “The Modern Style,” coalesced during the Universal Exposition in Paris (1900).  While it is apparently a break from the prevailing artistic and decorative trends of the just-completed century, the Art Nouveau Movement is also richly-informed by the 19th Century’s “Great Leap Forward” in the worlds of science, discovery, and critical thinking.

Most prominent amongst these thinkers was the English naturalist, Charles Darwin.  Born in 1809 (and dying in 1882), Darwin entered the scene on the heels of the 18th Century’s “Age of Enlightenment” and worked during the height of Victorian English expansion.  His controversial (though nearly universally-accepted) book, “On the Origin of Species” (1859), sent vibrations through the scientific, clerical, political, and (even) artistic worlds.

In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries—in the smartest of modern design ateliers—there was an infestation of “creepy, crawly creatures” finding their way onto Tiffany lamps, Cartier jewelry, and Gallé glass objets.  The piece shown above, made by Ipsen (Bornholm, Denmark) in the late Nineteenth Century, shows a winged dragon stalking an unsuspecting (though, well-armed) scarab beetle.

Please click on the photo above to learn more about this vase.

More "Science and the Art Nouveau" in days to come.


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