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Art Nouveau: the dawn of a new era

The antiques from the Art Nouveau era combined Gothic art, rococo, and the Louis XV and Louis XVI styles in order to pay homage to nature, animals, insects, and the female form. Artists aimed to innovate and create an ‘Art Nouveau’ or ‘New Art’ that did not replicate the pre-existing ornamentation and forms, and to do so in an entirely industrial way. Undulating and flexible forms featured plants and animals. Many motifs were also included: irises, palm trees, water lilies, orchids, butterflies, birds, and dragonflies.

The ornamental aspects were far more important than questions of comfort. Wood inlaid with marquetry, gilt bronze, leather, glass, and twisted metals were all created using sophisticated techniques to create fluid and rounded forms. Straight lines were replaced by rounded edges. Furniture was not designed individually but rather as ensembles: for the dining room, living room, and bedroom.