Art nouveau has always been a favourite among collectors, and now the chance to invest in some significant pieces comes via a selling exhibition at The Fine Art Society. Entitled Art Nouveau, Continental Design & Sculpture, it runs from Wednesday February 25 to Thursday March 19 at the Society’s premises on New Bond Street and is made up of works from the collection of John Scott, one of the most prolific collectors of British decorative arts over the past 40 years, who has been selling off works in a series of sales during recent months.
“The Fine Art Society is delighted to present the penultimate exhibition from the John Scott collection,” says Rowena Morgan-Cox, decorative arts specialist at The Fine Art Society. “Highlights include an occasional table [£180,000] by Hector Guimard, a masterpiece of art-nouveau design, very likely from his own home, L’Hôtel Guimard; a rare and beautiful Archibald Knox claret jug [£85,000], which proudly flies the flag for British art nouveau; and a Gustave Miklos unique bronze [£600,000, first picture], publicly offered for sale for the first time.” Dating from 1929, the bronze was part of the Scott collection and had been purchased from Miklos’ widow by celebrated art dealer Bob Walker in 1967.
Art nouveau’s floral artistry may have been a short-lived turn-of-the-century movement, but it was hugely influential and encompassed various aspects of life. This exhibition has a rich cross section – from a cast-iron plaque (£8,000, second picture) by Guimard, made for the newly opened Paris Métro in 1899-1900, a design still present in the 90 stations in use today, to stunning glassware featuring layered marquetry and carved or etched surface decoration by Emile Gallé.
Art nouveau was also used in many public spaces, and this “artwork for the people” is now highly collectable. Pieces for sale here include stoneware ornamental finials originally used for washing lines, and wall plaques from social housing estates in Somers Town, designed by Gilbert Bayes and manufactured by Doulton.
“The quality of the pieces that will be exhibited demonstrates the power and beauty of art nouveau,” says Morgan-Cox, “and its significance for modern design.”