Several sculptors used the small decorative bronze as a 3-D demonstration of the end of the century new age mood. The work was quite successful, as the enhanced specimens were widely imitated to reach a wider market.
However, many less quality mass-produced articles survive in base metals such as pewter or white metal.
Main producer. Germany was the main producer of commercially debased Art Nouveau sculpture. Several works copied the French dreamy-eyed lady with her long flowing hair and sweeping gown and robe.
This motif adorned mirror frames, trays, crockery and jugs, and some walking cane handles in silvered pewter with floral motifs along the cane.
The English, however were less interested in Art Nouveau, and more concerned around 1900 with adhering to traditional new sculpture of the 1880s. Even some were embedded in an elaborate and romantic Medievalism typified in resplendent knights.
In Austria, one particular sculptor was renown, Gustav Gurscher. This gentleman displayed outstanding imagination in designing lamps, and shades for them made of Loetz lustre glass.
Art Nouveau. France produced the most imaginative sculpture and quite a lot of the best quality Art Nouveau bronzes. These often bear a Paris foundry logo. The manufacturers Susse Freres and Siot-Decauville placed their marks on the works of outstanding quality.
Julien Causse and Jean Dampt were notable for their mixed media sculptures. Causse is renown for his “La Fee des Glaces”, a maiden in somber siered metal standing on an iceberg of crackled glass created by Ernest Leveille.
The Paris Exhibition of 1900 was quite the crowning event of the French Art Nouveau style. This style began to be quite active in the mid 1890s and this exhibition brought together the work of the foremost designers of that era.
Criticized. Within five to 10 years, Art Nouveau designs and conception became criticized. Many good concepts were copied and altered badly and many designers employed former fine and delicate works and then made the designs heavy in appearance.
As a result, many Art Nouveau articles became coarse and clumsy in appearance and quite inelegant.
To appreciate Art Nouveau sculpture it may be best to first admire the symbolism which the artist expressed in their work. Before admiring the detail, a person must remember that during the Art Nouveau era, sculpture had acquired a special significance.
The original theory of Art Nouveau architects was to eliminate the concept of purely arbitrary boundaries between fine and applied arts. Thereafter, sculpture was accepted as a decorative art and there was a disposition for art forms suited for residential placing.
Then it could be incorporated into lamp form, smoking accessories, writing instrument holders or paper weights.
As time moved on, a vogue for mixed media of sculpture utilizing ivory, semi-precious gems and enamel work was more adopted. This era of sculpture succeeded in an awareness of its position in decorative art.