A large "Coup de fouet" mirror
A gray-beige coloured wooden and stucco mirror frame
Pediment lined with lincrusta
height 141,5 cm
width 109,5 cm
Hector Guimard (1867-1942) was a French architect and the major representative of Art Nouveau style in France. Around 1880, his family left Lyon for Paris. In 1882, the young Guimard, aged fifteen, entered the National School of Decorative Arts and was admitted to the architecture section the following year, in 1885, he aspired to join the National School of Fine Arts. Accepted, he enrolled in Gustave Raulin's free workshop.
Guimard began his career as an architect with the construction in 1888 of a café-concert, Le Grand Neptune, on the quays of Auteuil, then participated the following year in the Universal Exhibition of 1889, by building the Pavilion of electricity. The first significant achievements, marked as much by the theoretical heritage of Viollet-le-Duc as by the formal vocabulary of the latter, appear with the Hôtel Roszé (1891), and especially the Hôtel Jassedé (1893). In 1895, the year Guimard built L'Ecole du Sacré-Coeur, he set up for Amélie Clotilde Carpeaux, widow of the famous sculptor, a “museum-depot”, known under the name of Atelier Carpeaux.
Introduced into the milieu of the local bourgeoisie, Guimard then met Elisabeth Fournier, the sponsor of the work that made him famous: the Castel Béranger, located at 14 rue La Fontaine in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. But following the trip to Brussels where he met Victor Horta in 1895, Guimard changed his style. If it was too late to modify the shell of the Castel Béranger, Guimard managed on his return to Paris to convince the widow Fournier to take over all the decoration. Hence the varied and sometimes contradictory aesthetic of Castel Béranger, when it was completed in 1898, illustrating in Guimard's career a period of radical transition of nearly five years: on the geometric and rectilinear volumes of the shell inspired by Viollet -le-Duke was spreading profusely (ironwork, cast iron, stained glass, paneling, wallpapers, etc.) the organic line "in whip" imported from Belgium. The Castel Béranger made Hector Guimard famous overnight and led to a surge of orders that made him the leading figure in Art Nouveau in France.
This very active period for the architect ended around the Universal Exhibition of 1900, with the construction of the cast iron aids and surrounds of the Parisian metro, made by the Val d'Osne art foundry, until 1913. Despite his innovations, his constructions commissioned by a restricted circle, the world was gradually turning away from Hector Guimard : less than the work, it was man who annoyed. And as a worthy representative of Art Nouveau, he himself was a victim of the contradictions inherent in the ideals of the movement: his most accomplished creations were financially inaccessible to the greatest number. The First World War, which threw down some of his professional projects and put an end to his activity as an architect, forced him into exile far from Paris. The post-war period saw him convert without much conviction to the Art Deco style. If his peers had always known how to show him their esteem, especially as a pioneer of the modern movement, Guimard was never able to experience popular success during his lifetime.
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