Art Nouveau vases may display several defining characteristics, which include the vase’s shape, design elements, colors and materials. The vase shapes are usually curved, and the designs frequently feature elements from nature. Colors used in the vases are usually lighter than those of the preceding Victorian era. Although the Art Nouveau era was short, it helped transition aesthetic styles from Victorianism to modernism. Vases with Art Nouveau characteristics are still being produced.
The shape of Art Nouveau vases may be quite distinctive. With this style, shapes are often curved into interesting designs, rather than being square or rectangular. Frequently, Art Nouveau era vases are tall, with a flare opening, although ginger jar shapes are also popular.
Many design elements used in Art Nouveau vases are drawn from nature. Stylized leaves, vines, flowers and dragonflies are frequently used in a variety of Art Nouveau decorations, including vases. Another common motif is the depiction of nymph, often with long, wavy hair, and perhaps with tendrils about her brow and face. Art Nouveau is noted for its use of whiplash curves, and the vase designs may incorporate those. Japanese aesthetic style also influenced Art Nouveau design.
Popular color choices for Art Nouveau vases are shades of green, peacock blue, and peach. Shade of rose, gray, and violet are also found frequently. Regardless of hue, soft colors usually graced these vases, which contrasted with the darker colors favored during the Victorian era.
These vases frequently are made from glass, which is a popular Art Nouveau material, and many vases feature a matte finish. Vases are also made bronze, silver and ceramics. When working with ceramics during this timeframe, new glazing techniques were discovered, and old methods were recovered.
The term Art Nouveau is French for “new art.” One of the shorter-lived art movements, it started around the 1890s and lasted until the mid-1900’s. It evolved from the Arts and Crafts movement; both movements evolved in reaction to Victorianism and to shoddy mass produced articles. Art Nouveau was a precursor to modernism. This style was popular internationally, notably in Europe and America.
A famous French jeweler of that time, Rene Lalique, was strongly associated with Art Nouveau. Along with jewelry, he became expert in working with glass, and became well-known for his iconic glass Art Nouveau vases, perfume bottles, and automobile hood ornaments. The firm he started continues in business today, and still creates vases with Art Nouveau characteristics.