Click here to view future events

06 February 2020Art Nouveau: 1890 - 1910
07 November 2019The "New" Berlin and Dresden Art and Architecture
07 February 2019Exploring the Decorative Arts of the Islamic World
01 November 2018Twentieth Century British Theatre: One Hundred years of Transformation
01 February 2018Russian art & architecture from the Vikings to Romanovs
02 November 2017Gainsborough in Bath – High Society and the Bath Season
02 February 2017Pepys, Wren & the Great Fire of London

Click on a row and scroll to display more details about the event

Art Nouveau: 1890 - 1910 Anne Anderson Thursday 06 February 2020

In 1900 Art Nouveau was at its apogee; Brussels, Paris, Nancy, Glasgow, Riga, Barcelona and Vienna were all transformed by the so-called New Art. At one level Art Nouveau was a regional response, with cities such as Glasgow, Barcelona and Darmstadt utilising the New Art to forge a distinct identity. But Art Nouveau also performed on an international stage, dominating the expositions held in Brussels (1898), Paris (1900), Vienna (1900) and Turin (1902). The New Art was both local and global it sought to address the needs of modern life, to utilise the latest technologies and to create ‘beautiful objects of everyday use’. Rene Lalique fashioned the finest jewellery, Louis Marjorelle was the supreme cabinet maker while Emile Galle crafted the most original glass vessels. Galle constantly perfected new techniques; firstly enamelling on clear glass, then hand-carved and acid etched cameo glass and finally his unsurpassed invention ‘glass marquetry’ unveiled at Paris 1900. In 1901 Galle assisted in the foundation of le Ecole de Nancy, or the School of Nancy, a confederation of manufacturers, which included Marjorelle and Daum. This was an alliance of Art and Industry, rather than Art and Crafts, as manufacturers used ‘batch production’ to lower prices. Every woman strove to fashion a House Beautiful with stunning glass, ceramic objets d’art and bronze figurines. Happiness appeared to lie in shopping; even shops were transformed into palaces. While many could not afford such luxuries, Beauty did reach the people as Art Nouveau transformed the city: banks, department stores, shops, restaurants and even railways stations were transformed into Palaces of Art. 

Belgian and French designers relied on the infamous ‘whiplash’ for their individualistic styles. Curving, undulating forms created figurines, furniture, ceramics, glass and jewellery, as well as covering entire buildings. Rejected by the English, as it was seen to be hedonistic, decadent and morally corrupting, Art Nouveau was condemned for being no more than mere decoration.  It was decried as commercial, pandering to popular taste and reducing art to fashion. But Art Nouveau embraced modernity using the latest technologies, especially electric light. It expressed the anxieties of the era, especially those aroused by progress and the spectre of the femme fatale. Nature was taken as a metaphor for progress; change was embraced as natural. However, by 1910 Art Nouveau appeared outmoded; the avant garde and fashion moved on. The years leading up to the First World War saw the emergence of Art Deco and Modernism; both would triumph in the Roaring Twenties. Modernity was now expressed through the metaphor of the Machine rather than Nature.

There will be three sessions:

Session One:  Art Nouveau: New Art for the New Century 


Session Two: Art Nouveau: Art for the People 

Lunch Break

Session Three: Art Nouveau Woman


The lecturer for this study Day is Anne Anderson. Currently a tutor for the V&A Learning Academy, Anne specialises in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement. Her career as an international speaker has taken her all over the world, including Jersey, Spain, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. She undertook her fourth lecture tour of Australia, for ADFAS, in 2018.

Study days are held in the Dinant Room at the Spotlight in Hoddesdon. The day starts at 10.00 and finishes around 3.00.  Coffee, served on arrival, and a sandwich lunch is included.  


Click here for booking form