Antique French Art Nouveau Desk

Art Nouveau Style Furniture is Characterized by Natural Forms and Curved Lines


Art nouveau is an artistic style that saw its height between the years of 1890 and 1910. The style developed due to a leaning trend away from traditional and historical styles. Art nouveau was inspired by the arts and crafts movement which was popular from 1860 through 1910. The two artistic styles existed concurrently.

The art nouveau style was not limited to furniture. In fact, most items that were created with the art nouveau style were paintings, home décor pieces, glass and jewelry.

Some of the most famous artists that created works in the art nouveau style were:

  • Gustav Klimt
  • Walter Crane
  • Rene Lalique
  • Louis Comfort Tiffany

Typical features of art nouveau style furniture:

  • Natural forms
  • Curved lines
  • Decorations related to nature: flowers, trees, leaves, vines, plants, and females with long hair
  • Ornamental motifs
  • Lines without sharp angles
  • Wide curves
  • The use of everyday objects

Some of the words used to describe art nouveau style items are:

  •  Mythological
  • Erotic
  • Elaborate
  • Ornamental
  • Natural
  • Decorative
  • Abstract
  • Modern
  • Spiritual

The Art Nouveau Trend

The individuals and artists that promoted the art nouveau trend had an underlying belief that anything found in nature was worthy of being incorporated into a work of art. Artists added these never-before-used creative elements into paintings, furniture, jewelry, and architectural items.

Art Nouveau style furniture was highly popular until about 1905 but the era did not fade until 1910. But, many people still collect items from the art nouveau era. Today’s art nouveau collectors have a true affection and draw to this style, but it is not a “look” that is featured in many modern-day homes. It is difficult to find original antique art nouveau pieces of furniture for sale, but items are often available at auction houses. Knock-off art nouveau items can be found in furniture stores, but the quality and workmanship in modern-day art nouveau items cannot compare to the works of art that were created during the 30 year period between 1890 and 1910.

Value of Original Art Nouveau Items

Because the art nouveau period was relatively short, surviving items from this era are rare and can be hard to locate without the help of an art or furniture dealer or auction house. If you are the owner of an original art nouveau item that was produced by one of the famous artists listed above or another well-known designer from this era, you may be in the possession of something extremely valuable. Refinishing an original piece of art nouveau style furniture can drastically reduce its value. If you suspect that an item you own is from the art nouveau period, make sure to have it appraised – and do not alter the piece until you know the item’s true worth in its original condition.

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