The Ecole de Nancy

At the turn of the 19th century, Nancy became the capital of French Art Nouveau. This forward-looking, creative period was to leave an enduring mark on the city; an exceptional cultural heritage and a state of mind that still exists today.

1870: Following Prussia's annexation of Alsace and Moselle, Nancy became a border town and a hub for immigration on a huge scale. Artists, manufacturers and bankers flocked to the city, concentrating resources and knowledge in a single place. This historical backdrop was to endow the city with a new identity, giving rise to the largest output of Art Nouveau in France.

At this time, a new artistic movement was taking Europe by storm, breaking with earlier art forms now deemed old-fashioned, and reacting to the impoverishment of art forms by the industrial era. This art, deemed total art and referred to as"Art Nouveau", brought its influence to bear on the most quotidian of objects, whether one-off or mass produced, but characterised by particular decorative or structural elements.

Some of the best known artists from the Ecole de Nancy include Emile Gallé, Louis Majorelle, Antonin Daum, Victor Prouvé, Jacques Gruber and Eugène Vallin. They took nature as their main source of inspiration, representing it with fluid lines and asymmetric compositions.

In 1901, Emile Gallé set out the basic tenets of the association known as the "Ecole de Nancy" or the "Provincial Alliance of Art Industries". Its aims included developing artistic teaching in tune with local industrial activities. It encompassed all areas of industry: glass, earthenware, textiles, leather, wood, metal, etc.

The artists often worked together, collaborating on architectural projects such as those of Lucien Weissenburger and Emile André

Nancy still boasts more than one hundred buildings from this period including banks, shops, chamber of commerce, apartment buildings and private homes. 

The Ecole de Nancy Museum, which occupies the former home of the patron and collector, Eugène Corbin, recaptures the atmosphere of 1900. Emile Gallé is held in a prominent position here. 

The Musée des Beaux-arts contains a collection of more than 300 pieces of Daum glassware.