Ornament is the essence of Art Nouveau. Throughout their two decades of dominance, Art Nouveau artists concentrated on the ornamental and decorative potential of the flowing line in painting, printing, wallpaper, and all other fine and applied arts. Hundreds of thousands of carefully wrought designs embellished books, bookplates, furniture, and appliances. A fashionable home was a garden of graphic florals, petals, leaves, and stems.
Today, Art Nouveau is again attracting artists, designers, and craftsmen of all kinds, while these countless ornamental flourishes have perished with their ephemeral surroundings. Art Nouveau motif seekers have been left with little choice but to resort to expensive archives of rare books. Here, taken directly from those rare books and periodicals, are 577 royalty-free authentic period designs specially chosen for artists and designers. The ornaments range in size from full-page illustrations to borders, head and tailpieces and decorative initials. All are in black-and-white line, clearly reproduced.
Many of the creations come from the influential English periodical The Studio (1894–1920) and the French Art el Décoration (1897–1910); others from a variety of original European sources, all identified. Artists represented include Gustav Klimt, George Auriol, Ethel Larcombe, and Will Bradley, along with hundreds of English. French, Italian, German, Scandinavian, and American studio draftsmen, all identified when possible. The designs are grouped by subject matter: florals, landscapes, figures, etc. There are spot illustrations, bookplates, menus, title pages, and many, many swirling line forms.