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A brief description of the Art Nouveau movement

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

What inspired this first modern art style and the artists and designers associated with the movement

Art Nouveau detailing on building in France

It is believed the inclusion of flowers in the arts and crafts movement, the curves, sensuality and use of shell and rock in Rococo and botanical illustrations of the time inspired the Art Nouveau movement.


The style took the simple patterns and shapes found in flowers, leaves, roots and buds and exaggerated their natural form into an elongated flowing movement. Entwined into the artwork would often be a beautiful woman in a Pre-Raphaelite pose whose height and long flowing hair would provide a vertical emphasis. The women and the natural world often appeared merged, with flowers engulfing the legs of the woman or enveloping her slender waist, implying a deep connection between the two.


Although Art Nouveau is commonly associated with paintings and commercial graphic design it was a style that was incorporated into applied arts, architecture and furniture design with many artists incorporating characteristics of this modern style into their work.


Here are Maison Chérie, we believe the greatest artists associated with the Art Nouveau movement in France to be:

Alphonse Mucha Art Nouveau Art

Alphonse Mucha, a Czech painter who lived in Paris and played a significant role in the rise of Art Nouveau through his extensive career which started with an advertising poster for the play Gismonda. This world renowned piece of art appeared on the streets of Paris in 1895 and was an overnight sensation.


Émile Gallé a french glass-maker whose work was elegant and inspired by nature and literature. Émile also co-founded the École de Nancy, a group of artisans and designers dedicated to expanding the reach of Art Nouveau.

Émile Gallé Art Nouveau glass

Louis Majorelle a furniture maker who co-founded the École de Nancy with Émile Gallé, and was renowned for including natural themes into his armchair, table and cabinetry designs.


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec an artist specialising in painting and drawing and known for such work as Au Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir. He also very successfully married fine art to commercial advertising design.

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