Art Nouveau emerged at the end of the 19th century in opposition to the official world of academic art. Seeking to break from tradition, a new generation of artists rejected the prevalent taste for highly ornamental objects that reworked earlier styles. Inspired by the unpredictability of nature and the vivid colors and bold forms found in Japanese art, they began producing organic forms embellished with sinuous curves, naturalistic hues, and daringly asymmetrical forms. This new style found a wide and largely supportive audience when it was promoted at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris. Yet its popularity ultimately led to the style’s demise. Interested in the handcrafted quality of their work, most Art Nouveau designers avoided mass production, but the increasing demand for their work drove many to create cheaper works, abandoning the movement’s original ideals. Although short-lived, Art Nouveau’s efforts to make a deliberate and decisive break from the past would become a hallmark of modern art.



  • Title: Portrait of Mme. Arthur Fontaine
  • Creator: Edouard Vuillard
  • Date: ca.1925
  • Location Created: France
  • Physical Dimensions: 50 x 37 in. (127 x 94 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: © ADAGP / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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