If you’re a lover of art and design, you’ve probably heard of some of the most famous art nouveau paintings. These paintings represent a new style that bridged the gap between late 19th-century aestheticism and early 20th-century design. These paintings have distinctive characteristics that distinguish them from earlier art styles, including the “coup de fouet” style and “sprig of parsley.” In fact, these paintings are among the most sought-after oil painting reproductions today. List below are 8 of the most famous Art Nouveau paintings by famous Art Nouveau artists .
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt is one the most famous examples of the Art Nouveau movement. The couple in this painting are kissing for eternity and the man’s beard is clearly defined, whereas the woman’s wig and head are undetected. Klimt’s painting was conceived to represent a universal romance that transcends age and gender. While many art historians debate the attribution of the figures, Klimt’s painting is a masterpiece in its own right.
Although Klimt didn’t often create portraits, this painting is one of the most well-known works in the art world. The woman in the painting isn’t a real person, although Klimt was obsessed with the look of gold, silver, and platinum. She even modeled for the artist during the time of the painting, which is considered the “Golden Period.”
The Dancer’s Reward by Aubrey Beardsley
In 1892, a publisher named J.M. Dent, a friend of the author, introduced Beardsley to a publisher who wished to create a substantial edition in the style of William Morris Kelmscott Press books. In addition to commissioning a new book, Beardsley also created the illustrations for the book. He adopted a bold, linear style of illustration, incorporating his knowledge of Japanese erotic prints and Ancient Greek vase painting into his illustrations.
Using techniques like doubling, Beardsley expresses contemporary fears about patriarchy and gender anxiety in his work. A Nubian arm doubles as a pedestal, snaky hair and a white collar evoke hanging breasts. The Dancer’s Reward provides a good example of how contemporary fears and anxieties were manifested in earlier Victorian prison illustrations.
The title image of the book was made by Beardsley while he was recuperating from an illness in the south of England. It introduces the key themes of the play. In one drawing, Lysistrata is depicted turning back a statue of a male deity. The statue represents virility and fertility, but is incapable of sex without Myrrhina. She also wears thigh-high black stockings, a symbol of sexual liberation.
Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt
Ludwig van Beethoven, the greatest composer of the nineteenth century, inspired one of the most famous art nouveau paintings, the Beethoven Frieze. Created for the Secession building in Vienna, the painting is dedicated to the memory of the composer. Klimt recognized the genius in Ludwig van Beethoven and saw it in him to create the painting. Critics have criticized the painting for being lifeless, harsh, and ugly. They also decried the depiction of Gorgons, a symbol of chastity, purity, and abstinence. However, Klimt was very much aware of this criticism and continued to paint the work, despite the negative reaction.
Though the artist continued to work in the classical style up until 1918, his most renowned work, Beethoven Frieze, won the first prize at the International Exhibition of Art in Rome in 1911. Klimt’s famous paintings and sculptures are in public and private collections around the world. You can find more than 250 of his oil paintings and more than 4000 drawings at the New York Metropolitan Museum.
At the Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
At the Moulin Rouge is a painting of a cabaret by French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, painted between 1892 and 1895. It includes a self-portrait by the artist and is one of many works he created depicting the cabaret. Toulouse-Lautrec painted the painting of a cabaret as a form of artistic expression.
The painting was inspired by the nightlife in Montmartre, Paris. He painted dancehall scenes centered on his favorite entertainers. In addition to a portrait of himself, he also painted his cousin and friends. The painting is a popular poster; even Pablo Picasso had a copy of it hanging in his studio. Its popularity helped attract a large audience, and Lautrec’s portrait of Louise Weber made it one of the most well-known paintings of the time.
Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I by Klimt
The enormous scale of Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I by Gustav Klimt belies the playful narrative it portrays. The artist painted the subject’s face and hands in oil before covering the canvas with silver and gold leaf, and applying decorative motifs in bas-relief. The subject’s wealth and beauty also lend the painting a certain sensuality. While Klimt’s portrait is not particularly sentimental, its playful narrative reflects the woman Klimt painted.
During World War II, the German government confiscated the paintings from the Bloch-Bauer family. After the war, legal efforts to reclaim the paintings were unsuccessful. During the 1990s, a niece of Adele Bloch Bauer sought restitution for the works. The woman’s portrait was among the works recovered. The portrait was a pricey purchase for an art lover.
The Peacock Skirt by Aubrey Beardsley
‘The Peacock Skirt’ by Aubrey Beardsley is an illustration of Shakespeare’s play Salome, a tragedy in one act. In this story, the princess is dressed in a peacock-embroidered skirt, and she is holding a flamboyant headpiece. In addition to this flamboyant outfit, Beardsley incorporated peacock feather patterns throughout the piece.
While the Peacock Skirt was not an immediate hit with the public, the story itself is a good representation of the artist’s development as an artist. Beardsley’s style became more mature, reflecting his interest in Japanese aesthetics. He also began to incorporate themes of deconstruction and obscene sexuality in his works. His early style was an artistic expression of the aesthetic movement that helped to shape the direction of modern art.
A series of illustrations accompanied the play Salome by Beardsley. Beardsley created beautiful drawings that fit with the story. One of these pieces was a series of drawings for Salome. It was also the first book in the series. This book was published in 1893. Despite being published in 1893, Peacock Skirt continues to inspire modern artists. This picture-book will delight any art lover.
Moulin Rouge La Goulue by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
The poster Moulin Rouge: La Goulue by Henris de Toulouse-Lautrec was a popular way for the Parisian public to see the famous cancan dancer, La Goutue, perform. This poster was produced during the late nineteenth century and was the first of many by Toulouse-Lautrec. The posters were used to promote the Moulin Rouge, one of Paris’s most popular dance clubs. The image combines a provocative pose with the anonymous crowd.
In addition to the performers in the famous nightclub, this painting features two regular performers. La Goulou, a celebrated cancan dancer, is shown with her lanky partner, Valentin le Dessosse, nicknamed the “Glutton” for his lack of bones. While he was performing for the audience at the Moulin Rouge, Boneless, a wine merchant, danced for free.
The Moulin Rouge poster is a striking advertisement for the famous French cabaret. Although the audience is reduced to silhouettes, the poster’s simplicity draws attention to the dancer La Goulue. La Goulue is accompanied by her partner, Valentin le Desosse, in the signature top hat and tails. The poster also celebrates the French revolution by featuring artists such as Victor Hugo, Pablo Picasso, and Antoine Degas.
The Slav Epic by Alphonse Mucha
The Slav Epic by Alphonsi Mucha depicts key events in the history of the Slavs and is one of the most celebrated examples of Art Nouveau.
The Slav Epic by Alphonsi Mucha is a collection of 20 monumental canvases that depict the history of Slav civilization and people. The artist had intended to paint this masterpiece as a monument to Slavic people and nations, but it remained in limbo for many years until its exhibition was finally held in 2012.
In order to create The Slav Epic, Mucha traveled to the United States, where he met philanthropist Charles Richard Crane, a wealthy Chicago businessman with a love for Slav culture. Crane helped fund the painting project for 20 years, and Mucha spent most of his time between 1911 and 1926 executing the Slav Epic. While in Prague, Mucha painted the ceiling of the Lord Mayor’s Hall, and a mural in the town of Zbiroh, which featured an inscription, “Though Terrorized and Shamed,” commemorating the Slav nation’s history.