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Art Nouveau: New Style for a New Century

All-Day Weekend Program

Full Day Lecture/Seminar

Saturday, February 13, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2119
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Peacock vase produced by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, ca. 1901 (Cooper Hewitt)


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.

Noted for its organic, sinuous, and seductive styles, the art nouveau movement in modern art and design—called the New Style—developed out of the arts and crafts and aesthetic movements. Centered in France at the very turn of the last century, it was celebrated at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris and quickly spread to England and America.

This richly illustrated seminar led by art historian Bonita Billman explores art nouveau’s origins, its identifying characteristics, and chief creators. Though it flowered for only a decade or so, art nouveau has had a long-lasting influence and popularity.

9:30—10:45 a.m.  The Origins and Characteristics of Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau was promoted by art dealer Siegfried Bing and had its most spectacular showing at the World’s Fair in Paris where great names in design like Tiffany exhibited their work. Bing showcased art nouveau in his own pavilion of concept rooms at the exposition.

11 a.m.—12:15 p.m.  Art Nouveau in France

France excelled in the New Style.  Rene Lalique, later famous for his glass, was a designer of sinuous mixed-media jewelry. Majorelle and Gaillard made furniture, and Mucha and de Feure painted.

12:15—1:15 p.m.  Break

1:15—2:30 p.m.  The New Style in Britain

Like Bing, Arthur Lasenby Liberty, a dealer in Asian objets d’art, championed the New Style. Many conservative Britons rejected the style for its perceived decadence and “Frenchness,” but his influential London store Liberty and Co. became synonymous with the popular style. In Scotland, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret MacDonald formed their own unique style of Art Nouveau.

2:45—4 p.m.  The New Style in America

Ironically, the artist most associated with art nouveau was not French, but American: Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiffany, who trained as a painter and worked as an interior designer, turned his attention to glass in the late 1880s. His Tiffany studio produced stained glass, glass mosaics, and most especially, art glass.

Billman, who is retired from the department of art and art history at Georgetown University, lectures for a variety of organizations in the mid-Atlantic region.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.