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Article

Michèle Lavallée

[Fr.: ‘new art’]

Decorative style of the late 19th century and the early 20th that flourished principally in Europe and the USA. Although it influenced painting and sculpture, its chief manifestations were in architecture and the decorative and graphic arts, the aspects on which this survey concentrates. It is characterized by sinuous, asymmetrical lines based on organic forms; in a broader sense it encompasses the geometrical and more abstract patterns and rhythms that were evolved as part of the general reaction to 19th-century historicism. There are wide variations in the style according to where it appeared and the materials that were employed.

Art Nouveau has been held to have had its beginnings in 1894 or 1895. A more appropriate date would be 1884, the year the progressive group Les XX was founded in Belgium, and the term was used in the periodical that supported it, Art Moderne: ‘we are believers in Art Nouveau’. The origin of the name is usually attributed to ...

Article

Alan Crawford

Informal movement in architecture and the decorative arts that championed the unity of the arts, the experience of the individual craftsman, and the qualities of materials and construction in the work itself.

The Arts and Crafts Movement developed in the second half of the 19th century and lasted well into the 20th, drawing its support from progressive artists, architects and designers, philanthropists, amateurs, and middle-class women seeking work in the home. They set up small workshops apart from the world of industry, revived old techniques, and revered the humble household objects of pre-industrial times. The movement was strongest in the industrializing countries of northern Europe and in the USA, and it can best be understood as an unfocused reaction against industrialization. Although quixotic in its anti-industrialism, it was not unique; indeed it was only one among several late 19th-century reform movements, such as the Garden City movement, vegetarianism, and folksong revivals, that set the Romantic values of nature and folk culture against the artificiality of modern life....

Article

Ann Poulson

Fashion illustration is a work of visual art, usually in the medium of drawing, print or watercolour painting, reproduced and published in order to disseminate fashion news (see figs 1 and 2). Before the 1670s, the dissemination of fashion depended on portraits of fashion leaders, such as van Dyck’s portraits of the members of the court of King Charles I of England, reproduced by means of engraved prints. These engraved prints were the forerunners to the fashion plate in both technique and style (see also Fashion plate and costume book. The fashion plate, which usually showed the full figure, often including a back view, was created solely to illustrate and promote the latest fashions. By the middle of the 17th century, certain artists, such as Abraham Bosse in France and Wenceslaus Hollar in England, specialized in these types of engravings.

The first fashion journal, Le Mercure Galant, combined fashion plates with descriptive text. It was published sporadically from ...

Article

Elizabeth Ashman Rowe

Illuminated 14th-century deluxe Icelandic manuscript (420×290 mm, 202 fols; Reykjavík, Árni Magnússon Institute, GKS 1005 fol.) of King Sverrir’s Saga. It was compiled by the priests Jón Þórðarson and Magnús Þórhallsson for Jón Hákonarson (1350–before 1416), a wealthy landowner in northern Iceland who collected sagas of the kings of Norway. A note on folio 4r dates Jón Þórðarson’s contribution to 1387, and Magnús Þórhallsson’s annals at the end of the manuscript indicate the book was completed in 1394 or 1395. Magnús illuminated the whole manuscript and was the scribe of King Sverrir’s Saga (composed in part by Abbot Karl Jónsson of Þingeyrar, Iceland, c. 1185). The saga contains eight initials decorated in a style combining Gothic curved and draped human figures with Romanesque grotesques and acanthus motifs. Five initials depict Sverrir (with crown, orb and weapons), his opponent Sigurðr, and their soldiers. One initial is foliate, and two depict hybrid monsters. The taunting grotesque (fol. 156...

Article

Avis Berman

(b Roxbury, MA, Sept 14, 1867; d New York, NY, Dec 23, 1944).

American illustrator. Gibson’s graphic creation, the “Gibson Girl,” became a symbol of upper-middle-class American womanhood from 1890 to 1914. The Gibson Girl’s appearance and dress were widely imitated and her popularity helped shape social attitudes at a time when women’s roles were undergoing dramatic changes.

Growing up in Massachusetts and New York City, Gibson entered the Art Students League at 16, studying there for two years. In 1885 he left school to make a living as an illustrator. Gibson drew in pen-and-ink, his medium for the rest of his career, but his early sketches were stiff and labored. In 1886 he sold his first drawing for $4 to Life, a weekly humor magazine. Emulating the draftsmanship of the British cartoonists John Leech, Charles Keene, George Du Maurier and Phil(ip William) May, Gibson developed a freer and more economical style. He successfully sold arch scenes of politics and society to Life...

Article

Simon Houfe

(b Blackheath, July 21, 1817; d Blackheath, Oct 5, 1897).

English illustrator and painter. While articled to his father’s estate agency for two years, he spent his time sketching City of London costumes and liveries and regimental uniforms. This meticulous historical knowledge helped when he became a full-time artist in 1836, exhibiting oils at the Royal Society of British Artists and the British Institution, both in London. From 1842 he was the first artist to contribute historical scenes to the Illustrated London News, making a total of 30,000 illustrations in 40 years. Gilbert found ample employment in book illustration, his classical draughtsmanship being ideal for such publications as Howard Staunton’s Shakespeare (1856–60). He began to paint in watercolour in 1851, developing mastery as a colourist and in working on a large scale; he was elected to the Old Water Colour Society in 1854 and was its President in 1871. He became an ARA in 1872 and an RA in ...

Article

(b Keighley, W. Yorks, March 28, 1834; d Paterson, NJ, Feb 15, 1923).

American manufacturer and collector. He came to Boston in 1851 and began his career as a bookkeeper with the firm of Tilt & Dexter, manufacturers of silk goods and dress trimmings. In 1855 he became a partner and head of the New York branch. In 1858 he bought out Dexter and became head of the company known as Dexter, Lambert & Co., moving the factory from Boston to Paterson, NJ. He built a home, Belle-Vista Castle, in Paterson, which became the showplace of the city, especially for his large and diverse art collection of more than 600 paintings. He was a patron of Ralph Albert Blakelock and owned 11 of his paintings (e.g. Sunset; Trenton, NJ State Mus.). In 1899 he sold Monet’s Chrysanthemums (1882) and Renoir’s By the Seashore (1883) to Durand-Ruel’s gallery in New York: these were acquired by Henry Osborne Havemeyer (1848–1907...

Article

Joellen Secondo

(b ?N. England, ?1840–50; d 1894–7).

English illustrator and designer. He received architectural training under William Salmon of Glasgow. He began his career as a designer in the London studio of Christopher Dresser, where he executed countless designs for furniture, decorations, wallpapers, carpets, tapestries, metalwork and pottery, which according to Smith were passed off as the work of Dresser. Smith contributed some of the designs and lithographed the plates for Sketches of Artistic Furniture, the 1871 catalogue of the London furniture-makers Collinson & Lock. His first publication, Studies for Pictures: A Medley (London, 1868), is dedicated to Dresser. His next two books, Album of Decorative Figures and Ancient Greek Female Costume (both London, 1882), reveal his interest in figurative designs. His most scholarly work was a history of interiors, Ornamental Interiors, Ancient to Modern (London, 1888).

Smith’s penchant for drawing literary, allegorical and historical figures in historical costumes is evident in the themes of the books he chose to illustrate and in his designs for tiles. During the 1870s and 1880s he produced illustrations for Greek myths, fairy tales and the writings of Plutarch and Shakespeare. Smith was a prolific designer for ...