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How Do I Choose the Best Art Nouveau Fireplace?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2016
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To choose the best art nouveau fireplace, consumers can begin by working with an antiques auction house. This type of business can guide purchasers toward the piece that bests suits the needs of their home, whether as art alone or as a functional unit which provides warmth. Consumers can benefit by studying the art nouveau movement, and learning to recognize those elements of design which defined its purpose.

The term art nouveau is often applied to architecture, art, and design that mimics styles popularized during the 1890s and lasted through the early 1900s. Many art critics agree that this style was firmly established and defined during the World's Fair held in Paris in 1900. Artists of the time worked together to create a universal design that championed craftsmanship, decoration, and attention to detail while rejecting those things which were mass produced. They responded to the Industrial Revolution of the era by embracing it and using the newly available materials of steel and cast iron. Many of the artistic pieces created during this time merge gracefully flowing linear lines with forms found in nature.

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When selecting an art nouveau fireplace, consumers should bear in mind the ideals which inspired this artistic movement. Many of these pieces are crafted from interlocking pieces of cast iron into which ornamental designs have been forged. Nature typically features heavily throughout these designs, creating wistfully curving trees that intertwine over elaborate flowered gardens. The fireplace may also incorporate some small ornamental tile work framing the actual opening for the fire.

Auction houses are usually an excellent source for locating an art nouveau fireplace. These establishments, whether a physical building or an online catalog, often deal with reputable antiques collectors. They also employ professional art critics who can distinguish between authentic period pieces and reproduction pieces of high quality. These experts can guide consumers to purchasing the right piece for their home, whether they are looking for an artistic display piece or a functional fireplace which can hold wood, coal, or gas lines. Many auction houses and fireplace experts also perform the majority of restoration work required on original period pieces prior to selling them.

Authentic period pieces typically range higher in price than reproduction pieces. An art nouveau fireplace created during the late 19th century may require some work, however, to restore it to working condition. Some fireplace fronts may not contain all the original pieces, or those pieces which remain may need major repair and cleaning to achieve the art work's original glory. Individuals searching for a genuine collectible item can benefit by browsing through auction catalogs and estate sales, and should be willing to perform some minor work to restore their piece to its original condition. Those who prefer a fireplace that merely resembles the work of art nouveau, but is also functional, can benefit by visiting a traditional furniture store which specializes in reproduction pieces.

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