Hector Guimard (French, 18671942)
Silk and paint on silk; 27 x 18 in. (68.6 x 45.7 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Hector Guimard, 1949 (49.85.11)
Guimard studied at the École des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, and is best known for his architectural achievements at the end of the nineteenth century, including several entrances for the Paris Métro. His designs represent the unique vision of Art Nouveau, which developed in Europe as a reaction to the mechanized world engendered by the Industrial Revolution and to the historical revivalist style prevalent during the second half of the nineteenth century. Art Nouveau embraced a return to natural, organic forms, incorporating sensuous curves and elaborate flourishes. Guimard envisioned his architecture as a totality, within which interior space, decoration, and furnishings corresponded to the exterior structure and appearance of the building. Thus every detailupholstery, wall and floor coverings, ceiling ornaments, hardware, and fixtureswas a part of his creation.
This silk panel conveys Guimard's brilliant elegance and sensuality. Its strongly marked lines seem to take possession of the form. The panel, possibly an insert for the bodice of a dress of cream-colored silk tabby, is embellished with machine embroidery in white and ivory silk and worked in stem and satin stitches. Parts of the design are painted light tan with black details.