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How to Spot Authentic Art Nouveau Collectibles

When it comes to filling your home with unique pieces that reflect your style, vintage items offer timeless appeal. Although artists and furniture makers may try to use past decades for current inspiration, you can’t beat real pieces from that time. When it comes to Art Nouveau décor, you can find countless items floating around an antique mall—it’s just a matter of spotting the one you love.

If you adore the muted colors and organic curves of Art Nouveau antiques, you’re not alone. But when you start your hunt, how can you be certain a piece is authentic? Luckily, we’ve collected all the expert tips and tricks you need to spot genuine Art Nouveau décor at an antique mall near you

What is Art Nouveau Décor?

Art Nouveau is an all-encompassing term for the popular art, architecture, furniture, and décor designed from the 1800s to World War I. With flowing lines, asymmetrical composition, and previously unseen shapes, Art Nouveau furniture and art were created to celebrate the tranquility and beauty of nature. Even if you haven’t heard the term before, you’ve no doubt seen the more famous Art Nouveau décor and art in museums, like works by artists Antoni Gaudi and Gustav Klimt, as well as inspiring the modern styles around you.  

Why Collect Art Nouveau Antiques?

Many people collect Art Nouveau antiques for their value. When someone finds a piece of Art Nouveau furniture in good condition and can identify the original artist and year it was made, a piece can be worth anywhere from a couple bucks to thousands. Authentic Art Nouveau décor is a great investment, whether you collect for personal interest or intend on setting up a vendor booth at an antique mall to sell your collection.

Others collect Art Nouveau antiques for the original reason they were created—to decorate with vintage décor. Art Nouveau décor is back in style—in fact, it never left! The gorgeous hues and nature-inspired pieces have made quite a comeback and work as the perfect style accent in any home. If you’re looking for ways to elevate your décor, incorporating an Art Nouveau furniture piece to your living room or rare Art Nouveau décor to your bedroom is a beautiful place to start.  

Popular Art Nouveau Antique Collectibles:

The 5 Main Characteristics of Art Nouveau Décor Explained

Whether you’re one of our vendors or a first-time guest, you can look for these five characteristics that make up Art Nouveau décor:

  1. Organic lines and shapes: both Art Nouveau furniture and wall art used curves, circles, and flowing lines rather than harsh edges and points to distinguish the style.

  2. Mosaic-like patterns: look at the small mosaic details, such as repeating flowers or circles, in paintings or panels of glass. 

  3. Saturated colors: the color palette of a piece will be a dead giveaway, as the hues used in Art Nouveau antiques are soft and muted, often featuring oranges and greens with subtle blue and pink accents. 

  4. Symbolic and romantic imagery: Art Nouveau décor was influenced by the Romantic Period, so many of the figures in paintings depict love, sensuality, and passion. 

  5. Mixed materials: Art Nouveau furniture, architecture, and vintage lighting designs were known for combining iron metal work, wood, concrete, ceramic, and colorful stained glass. 

Collecting Timeless Art Nouveau Antique Paintings

If you find yourself swept up in the romantic and whimsical characters drawn in Art Nouveau antique art pieces, you’re not alone. From the famous painting, The Kiss, which shows a yellow-toned couple caught in an embrace, to the black and white The Peacock Skirt, the paintings of this time period have been copied over and over to be hung around the globe.

When you’re looking through the booths at an antique mall in Chicago, keep your eyes peeled for those distinguishing shapes, figures, and colors Art Nouveau décor is known for. Women drawn in Art Nouveau antique paintings showcase anatomically correct forms to depict an ethereal and sensual female character, which is a nod to the budding acceptance of female sexuality of the time. The asymmetrical lines, flower stalks and vines, insect wings, and other depictions of nature are seen in Art Nouveau décor.

If you happen to find an original copy of a painting that can be authenticated and appraised, you’ve struck gold. But don’t discount the decorative value of an Art Nouveau antique copy—consider taking it home with you to hang on a gallery wall or on its own for a showstopping piece.   

Who Were the Popular Artists of the Art Nouveau Movement?

Whether you’re a Gaudi architecture expert or vaguely remember a famous painting, modern art is influenced by a few famous names from this time period. The most influential painters from the Art Nouveau era are Gustav Klimt, Aubrey Beardsley, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Alphonse Mucha, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec—to name a few. While they may not all be household names, the Art Nouveau décor that came from their brilliant minds deserves a spot in any home. 

Buying an Art Nouveau Tiffany Lamp

One of the longest-lasting styles born from the Art Nouveau décor movement is the Tiffany lamp! Louis Comfort Tiffany, the son of the creator of jewelry company Tiffany & Co., designed the first variety of stunning stained glass mosaic lamps after a successful career as an interior decorator. Suddenly, with a masterful use of carefully cut shaped and colored glass pieces, a picturesque scene could be depicted in one glowing lampshade. 

Tiffany lamps are one of the easiest Art Nouveau décor pieces to spot in the wild, and whether you find a shade and base set or a random lamp shade, these pieces can be incredibly valuable. One of the rarest designs ever sold, the “Pink Lotus” lamp went for over $2.8 million at an auction in the ‘90s, while other pieces can start at $5,000. As long as it’s in quality condition, collectors of these vibrant lamps will pay whatever they can—and those that aren’t perfect can still find their home with people who collect Art Nouveau décor for fun!

Pro tip: if you come across a Tiffany lamp that doesn’t work at a Florida antique mall event, don’t give up—you can take it to get rewired without losing value. 

How to Spot a Fake Tiffany Lamp

It’s been over a hundred years since the first Tiffany lamp designs, but off-brand reproductions skyrocketed in the ‘70s. Should you come across a suspected Tiffany piece, it’s important to determine if it’s an authentic Art Nouveau antique or a copycat.

You can usually determine if the piece is authentic by looking at the leading, patina, bronze casting, coloring, pattern, and type of glass used. Compared to the beautiful vintage collectibles in Illinois stores, most fakes look visibly cheap and can be spotted right away, but you can never be too sure unless you get it authenticated.  

Investing in Art Nouveau Furniture 

Oftentimes, Art Nouveau antique designers doubled as architects and furniture creators, taking the time to match their pieces to their home-building styles to create a cohesive, artistic look through their houses. Once Art Nouveau furniture became popular, these pieces were slightly simplified so they could be easily produced in assembly line factories and mass-ordered by the public. While a few details were lost in this move, the contemporary styles were like nothing anyone had ever seen before, and the Art Nouveau furniture quickly took over for those who considered themselves to be stylish and refined. 

Make a statement in your home décor by finding unique and effortlessly stylish Art Nouveau furniture. From renovating your home office with an antique desk to adding a new bedside table set to your guest room, a simple switch to vintage Art Nouveau furniture can transform the look and feel of any room. But with so many decades of furniture available at most antique malls, yard sales, and thrift stores, how are you meant to distinguish an Art Nouveau furniture design? 

5 Elements of Art Nouveau Furniture

From the simplistic bending silhouettes of Henry Van de Velde pieces to the decorative and naturalistic designs of Hector Guimard, Art Nouveau furniture is eternally gorgeous. When visiting our Highland vendor mall, look for these five elements to discover an Art Nouveau antique design: 

1. Inlaying

Art Nouveau antique art is known for its colorful drawings and patterns, and inlaying allows that famous design to transfer to furniture. Inlaying is a method used to add an ornamental design onto a carved-out section of the furniture piece. Ivory, colorful glass, gemstones, mirrors, and metals were all often used to give the table, cabinet, or door an Art Nouveau décor accent. 

2. Whiplash Curves

The whiplash curve is a repeated motif across Art Nouveau antiques, known for its asymmetrical, long, S-like line that’s inspired by plants and flowers. The signature whiplash curve can be painted directly, included in varying metal accents, or carved into wood doors and panels. 

3. Materials

Though the furniture from previous eras stuck to one or two woods or metals, a wide range of materials is used for Art Nouveau antique furniture. Art Nouveau furniture was also almost always polished with a fine varnish to give that elegant sheen that high-quality furniture is known for.

Common Art Nouveau Furniture Materials:

  • Oak

  • Walnut

  • Mahogany

  • Iron

  • Bronze

  • Cast Iron

  • Steel

4. Asymmetry

While the silhouette of Art Nouveau furniture often remained symmetrical for weight-bearing purposes, the intricate details and painting were almost always asymmetrical. In order to stick to the organic inspirations behind the movement, where almost nothing is perfectly mirrored in nature, these small accents and design choices define an era of vintage Art Nouveau furniture. 

5. Paint

Nowadays, painted furniture is most often seen when someone attempts an upcycling job, but there was a popular trend for designers to paint Art Nouveau furniture. From armoires to coffee tables, people would use the muted color palette of the time to create largescale woodland scenes or subtle embellishments. The combination of these textures, colors, and high-quality wood leads to easily recognizable Art Nouveau furniture pieces that still look beautiful in any home. 

Where Can You Find Art Nouveau Antiques?

If you’re looking to shop from the comfort of your own home, you can always look at online auctions or check individual sellers’ websites to find curated collections of Art Nouveau décor. Search for online forums to narrow down on the Art Nouveau antique of your dreams and connect with other lovers of the style. 

Take to the streets—or aisles—and explore your local Indiana vendor mall for a one-stop Art Nouveau décor shop. With hundreds of different booths and showcases to search through, you’re sure to find a rare painting or the just-right furniture fit for your home. With a little time and energy, you’ll soon discover that the perfect Art Nouveau antique is waiting for you. 

How to Authenticate Art Nouveau Décor

If you stumble across a vintage family heirloom piece in your basement or an antique desk in an antique mall near Orlando and suspect it may be from the Art Nouveau movement, there are a few ways to confirm. Learning to spot the tell-tale design signs for Art Nouveau furniture and art from the time period is just the beginning. Luckily, there are many resources, both online and around the world, that offer authentication and appraisal. 

Whether you want to sell an antique or buy from another vendor, you should always make sure the piece is properly authenticated to avoid any potential scams or overpaying. After taking a look at your Art Nouveau furniture or painting, an expert will determine the make, model, and value of your newfound treasure. From there, you can either resell the piece or add it to your unique collection.

With gorgeous colors, high-quality materials, and unbeatable elegance, Art Nouveau antiques have a place in everyone’s home—it’s just a matter of finding the right one. When you know the tricks for spotting authentic pieces, you can start your collection with ease! Refer to our guide to finding Art Nouveau décor in the wild, and visit one of our antique malls to start your search today. 

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