Designer: Hector Guimard (French, Lyons 1867–1942 New York)
Date: ca. 1900
Medium: Silk and paint on silk
Dimensions: L. 27, W. 18 in. (68.6 x 45.7 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Hector Guimard, 1949
Accession Number: 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 were a unique version of Art Nouveau, which developed in part as a European reaction to a mechanized world brought on by the Industrial Revolution and in part to the then-outmoded 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 detail-upholstery, wall and floor coverings, ceiling ornaments, hardware, and fixtures-were 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.