An Art Nouveau Inkwell


When I bought this wonderful inkwell, it was described by the seller as “an art nouveau/art deco inkwell”. To my eye, it’s completely art nouveau and I see no sign whatsoever of the art deco style. Both in shape and decoration, it conforms completely to the natural forms associated with that style. It has those “sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip” that reminded me of Beardsley’s illustrations or the tresses of a Mucha maiden.
It’s a large piece, 8 1/2 inches across, in brass and enamel. Unless it’s a later revival – which seems unlikely given its purpose – it dates somewhere in the period 1885 to 1920. I’m sure Oscar Wilde would have had one of these…


4 thoughts on “An Art Nouveau Inkwell

    1. couldn’t agree more – 110% art nouveau, and very mouth watering – I’m envious. The term nouveau is descriptive of a decorative ‘style’ – and many pieces of ‘art’ in this style, despite having been made in much more recent times may still legitimately be called art nouveau. Debs inkwell however, is, as the lady says, a genuine antique. Surprisingly, there seems to be confusion with this and with the successive style – deco – which seems odd since they are quite distinctive in appearance.
      This inkwell might be of British origin, but equally might have originated on the Continent – where both styles were probably more widespread than the U.K.
      Can’t quite see if the colours are enamelling or painted on – assume no marks on the metalwork – but very nice:)

      1. Thank you for your considered and informative comment. As to whether it’s paint or enamel, I can’t make up my mind. It could well be paint but if so it must be very durable as it remains shiny to this day which was what made me think of enamel. No maker’s marks, unfortunately. In style, it reminds me of so many things that I have seen in books on Art Nouveau.

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