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Additional Antique Terms and Definitions

Art Periods & Terms



Since the beginning of time, art has influenced the way that we live. The influence of art can be found in architecture, lithography, decorating and design, including china, crystal, flatware, and collectibles!

Art Deco (1925-1940) – The influence of the art deco period can be seen in most areas of design, including architecture, lithography, furniture making, and the production of household items. The movement began with the 'Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes.' This Parisian exhibition celebrated living in the modern world. Art Deco design can really be seen in the silver production from the time, silver creation was very prolific during this period. Patterns from the art deco period are characterized by repeating geometric shapes, sharp angles, and straight lines. Together, these design elements create a sense of motion and forward movement. Examples of the Art Deco period are:

Art Nouveau (1880-1920) – In France, this art movement was known as fin de siècle, or "end of a century." Characterized by undulating lines, waves, curls, and a strong influence from nature, the art nouveau style eventually became known as the "art of decadence." Art nouveau artists and designers drew inspiration from the Romantic literary movement and the French symbolism movement. Two of the most renowned artists from the period are Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Alphonse Mucha. In America, Louis Comfort Tiffany popularized the art nouveau movement by selling his popular glass panel lamps.

Arts and Crafts (1830-1930) – The arts and crafts movement spanned nearly a century. Artists from this period believed that items could be made through industrial mass production and still retain a hand made quality. The movement was predominantly English. However, its influence was felt in America at the turn of the century. The arts and crafts movement did influence the production of pottery.

Contemporary – The word "contemporary" is used to refer to what is popular in the present period. Often, Replacements will refer to the "contemporary shape" of a particular china pattern. We are drawing attention to the fact that this particular design is popular now.

Edwardian (1901-1919) – The word "Edwardian" refers to the reign of King Edward VII of England from 1901 to 1910 and its after effects. His reign marked the end of the highly influential Victorian period. While clinging to the traditions of the Victorian period, Edwardians found themselves in a transitional period of modern indulgence, industry, mass production, and challenged social norms. The Edwardian period has often been likened to the Titanic ocean liner with its speed, opulence, and its embodiment of human progress. The life of the Titanic was short lived, as was the Edwardian period. The First World War brought the Victorian and Edwardian periods to a definitive close.

Federalist (1780-1820) – The federalist period coincides with colonialism. The term is used when referring to those years following the American Revolution. Federalism is often applied to patterns whose design or name alludes to the federalists – George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, John Adams, and other framers of the constitution. The period marries elements of the conservative colonialism to Georgian opulence..

Georgian (1714-1837) – This highly influential era is the British counterpart to America's federalist or colonial period. The period began with the coronation of George I in 1714. George II and III ruled until the crowning of Victoria in 1837. The Georgian period was reactionary to the overindulgent designs of the Rococo and Baroque ages. Instead, a return to the ideals and aesthetics of ancient Greece marked the Georgian period. It is during this time that great advances are made in the pottery and porcelain businesses. Many of the greatest china producing companies opened during this period, including Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, and Spode.

Greco/Roman, Greco/Roman Revival, Helenism, Classicism, and Neoclassicism – All of these terms are used to refer to the influence of classical Greco/Roman thought on western culture. The Greeks and Romans heavily influenced our culture through the arts, literature, philosophy, politics, and science. The neoclassical movement sought to revive Greco/Roman methodologies and thought processes. Neoclassicism or the Greco/Roman revival coincided with the Georgian period..

Impressionism (1860-1900) – Impressionism was a French movement in painting. The impressionist artists attempted to capture the affects of light using whimsical brushstrokes. Additionally, impressionist artists often attempted to convey strong emotion to their audiences. Haviland, a French porcelain factory outside of Paris, was most influenced by the Impressionist movement. David, Charles, and Theodore Haviland were strong supporters of the arts. The Auteil Studio was opened by Haviland and Co. to foster creative expression for Parisian Artists. Impressionism exerted great influence over the early works of the Haviland firm. Haviland's impressionist pieces are extremely rare.

Minimalism – This term is often used to refer to an artistic style where the individual elements of the subject are diminished. The minimalist style has been closely linked to the modern art movement of the 20th century.

Modern – The modern art movement is defined by a stark departure from traditional shapes, colors, and forms of expression. Modern works tend to be dated between the 1930's and 1950's..

Naif – The word "naif" spans a variety of languages. In Italian and Spanish it is translated as "simple" or "naive." In France and Germany, "naif" has been adopted as a cognate to label certain forms of nonspecific and brightly colored folk art. In the English speaking western world "naifs" are folk artists who lack formal training. Also, the term "Naif" was picked to pay tribute to the school of naive artists who emanated from France during the mid-to-late Victorian period. The foremost member of this group was Henri "Le Douanier" Rousseau. By day, Rousseau worked as a tollbooth collector; by night, he worked as an artist. His simple and brightly colored paintings were in stark contrast to the heavily ornate Victorian and Art Nouveau styles.

Narrative Art – The term "narrative art" has been used to describe a delightful form of visual storytelling. The foremost representative of the narrative art movement is Norman Rockwell. Rockwell was born into a middle class family of New York City. He later moved to the suburbs and took his first job as an illustrator at the age of 18. By the age of 19, Rockwell was named editor of Boy's Life magazine. He is best known for his having illustrated 322 covers of the Saturday Evening Post magazine. Each time that the Saturday Evening Post featured a cover designed by Norman Rockwell, the printers were told to increase their initial printing by 250,000 copies.

In 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt used his State of the Union address to outline reasons why the United States should enter World War II. Our nation, he said, was founded on four basic freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. By entering World War II and supporting the allied effort, the United States would be defending these most basic freedoms. Roosevelt's speech inspired Rockwell to produce a series of illustrations entitled "The Four Freedoms." These illustrations were first featured in the Saturday Evening Post. Later, Rockwell's "The Four Freedoms" toured the nation. The paintings were viewed by more than 1.2 million people and generated more than $133 million in war bond sales.

Pop Art (1950-1960) – The pop art movement originated in England and later moved to the United States. Pop artists focused on familiar images from popular culture and made fun of industry and mass production by mass producing their own art. The most famous of pop artists is Andy Warhol. Warhol's silk screened images are world renowned.

Regency (1812-1830) – This period marks the end of Georgian exuberance and the revivalist style. In 1812, the Prince of Wales was appointed as "Regent of England." Instead of neoclassical motifs and revivalism, applied arts ushered in Victorian sensibilities and conservative ornamentation. The period is rather short, lasting only 18 years. As romanticism flourished in England, the applied arts used ornamentation more heavily. Social conservatism in England and America came as a result of the American and French revolutions. The people of America and England held to their conservatism as they stood in awe of the Napoleonic revolutions that swept through continental Europe. This social conservatism was reflected in the applied arts of the period.

Rococo (1715-1750) - The rococo style has often been deemed as the "degeneration of the baroque period." Specifically, rococo art refers to whimsical lines that reacted against the heavy, straight lines of the baroque period. The applied arts from the period used seashells and whimsical scrolls to create a rough texture and flowing design. Rococo design often employs the use of pastel colors, creating a light but decorative style

Victorian (1839-1901) – The Victorian period corresponds to the reign of Queen Victoria and is marked by its attention to high moral values and a sense of social obligation. One of the most notable achievements is the advent of "afternoon tea." Afternoon tea was institutionalized by Queen Victoria and her ladies in waiting. As a result of "tea time" sterling tea services became immensely popular. The Victorian period follows a series of reactionary periods where one period rejects the principles of the preceding period. The Victorian period celebrated a number of previous artistic movements and married them to the avant-garde movements of the day.


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