Henry van de Velde (Belgian, 18631957); Manufacturer: Theodore Muller, Weimar
Silver; 4 1/8 x 14 in. (10.5 x 35.6 cm)
Purchase, Cynthia Hazen Polsky Gift, 2000 (2000.350)
Henry van de Velde was one of the most influential figures of the Belgian Art Nouveau movement, advocating radical design reform, especially in objects of everyday use. He sought to free the arts from what he perceived as the dishonest use of forms and applied ornament borrowed from historical styles. Van de Velde argued instead for a new form of ornament that developed organically from the object or structure it embellished. Like many Art Nouveau designers, he sought unity among the arts, and designed for all aspects of daily life, including textiles, metalwork, ceramics, and graphic design, as well as architecture. This silver jardinière demonstrates van de Velde's notion of organic ornament. The two angular handles, sprouting from the base of the form, are both functional and decorative. They are integral to the structure as well as the concept of the jardinière, providing visual interest and utility.