Art Nouveau was an art and design movement that grew out of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th Century.
In Germany it was called Jugendstil (Youth Style), while the Austrians called it Sezessionstil, because it was popularised by the artists of the Vienna Secession art movement (formed in 1897 and led by Gustav Klimt). In Italy, it was referred to as Stile Liberty possibly after Liberty’s in London. In Britain, artists, architects and designers were looking to preceding movements, such as Pre-Raphaelitism and Aestheticism. Using organic forms as a basis for design emerged out of the Arts and Crafts movement, taking inspiration from the likes of John Ruskin and William Morris.
Arthur Lasenby Liberty’s store who produced a “Novelties in Pewterware” catalogue in 1900, was a key champion of art nouveau design, employing the likes of Archibald Knox and Jessie M King to design a pioneering range of metalware pieces, including nostalgic Cymric (Celtic Revival) designs. Art Nouveau from Liberty’s highlighted curvaceous lines, often inspired by plants and flowers, as well as geometric patterns.
The likes of Orivit of Cologne, WMF, and J.P. Kayser and Sohn Ag in Germany, and of course Liberty & Co here in the UK, whose ‘Tudric’ brand pewter (The manufacture of Tudric pewter began in 1903) embraced Art Nouveau and Celtic Revival styles. Elements of colour were added with enamel and glass. However, as pewter has an extremely low melting point, copper was used as the base for the enamel which was then inlayed into the pewter.
Pieces by Archibald Knox were also commissioned by the White Star Line to furnish the state rooms on the Titanic. This fashion for pewter was unfortunately cut short by World War I as the Knox designs were extremely time consuming to make and the labour was not available. After the war the Art Deco movement took hold favouring geometric shapes and factory manufacture unsuitable for pewter
For more information :
20th Century Pewter: Art Nouveau to Modernism by Paul Carter Robinson
ISBN 10: 1851496157 ISBN 13: 9781851496150
Publisher: Antique Collectors' Club Ltd, 2012