NOUVEAU JEWELRY BOXES Portray Spring Floral Fantasies Nouveau jewelry boxes were a popular item upon which was expressed many fanciful flowers which portrayed special symbolic importance during the early 1900's.
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - Nouveau Jewelry Boxes Portray Spring Floral Fantasies
Flowers have been greatly esteemed since the dawn of civilization. Ancient Egyptians painted them on their temple walls and the withered remains of flowers have been found in ancient tombs around the world. The colorful and fragile beauty of flowers has given rise to countless culturally symbolic meanings, and folktales about flowers have abounded from the earliest times. Floral representations have been added to all forms and materials of artistic effort—paintings, metal ware, furniture, fabric and so on. Floral names have even graced our daughters. Although less common now, names such as Rose, Daisy, Myrtle, Pansy, and even Honey (originating from flowers), were once quite popular.
With the advent of the 19th century, the growing scientific sophistication of Western civilization and explorations to the furthest exotic corners of the earth greatly increased popular interest in nature and the natural richness of the planet. An increasingly educated public was captivated by its wondrous beauty and diversity. Concurrently, the Romantic Era response to the Industrial Revolution (and cold logic of the Enlightenment) combined with naturalism to shape an emotionally warmer and more optimistic view of the world. These forces culminated in the development of Art Nouveau—the first artistic movement in which the primary motif and device was the flower.
Art Nouveau was springtime incarnate—a time of budding promise and great intellectual fertility, in contrast to the soulless machines and soot of industrial enterprise. Nature had affected the human conscience, and it now entered the public imagination as never before. Flowers bedecked many pre-Nouveau forms, but in Art Nouveau (the New Art!) a true departure emerged. Nowhere was such a profusion and variety of flowers to be seen as that which emerged upon the popular scene in the Art Nouveau period.
Jewelry boxes for M’Lady were a particularly popular item upon which was expressed these fanciful flowers. On Nouveau jewel boxes one sees the bold beauty of the flower displayed from infinite perspective. In fact, flora of all sorts, flowering and non-, fairly burst forth in three-dimensional glory from the molded metal. However, the artist was not simply expressing admiration for nature by randomly adding a bunch of pretty flowers to a design. The flowers themselves held a special place of symbolic honor during this period and conveyed an importance or significance lost on us today. Each flower type represented a long history of myth and meaning. Today, we still share a common cultural bond with our grandparents and great-grandparent, in that Roses signify love and lilies purity. But do we remember that, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, love was also expressed with Myrtle, Creeping Willow and Ambrosia, as well as with Roses? Do we currently equate, “affection” with Mossy Saxifrage, Pear, and Sorrel? Or know that “marriage” was indicated by Ivy?
The many legends attached to flowers might be divided into three classes: the mythological, the ecclesiastical/ historical, and the poetical. The mythological legends often relate to “creation” stories as well as the