Thursday, January 3, 2013

Featured Items: Beautiful Art Nouveau Images by Photographer Arjalew

It's pretty amazing when our featured items sell so fast that we can't even get our blog post up, but that's what happened to two out of this beautiful collection of images. Fear not, you will still have the opportunity to view all four of these wonderful Art Nouveau images by the Belle Époque photographer, Arjalew (pronounced ari-ya-lev). Monsieur Arjalew was a Parisian photographer who operated a studio out of 17 Boulevard Poissoniere in Paris. His surname suggests a Polish heritage to us, but we are not experts and have been unable to find confirmation; one source, a French dealer in postcards, has listed Arjalew's work as Judaica, but we cannot confirm this, either. What we do know is that Arjalew created some really stunning Art Nouveau images, often using illustrated backgrounds with that quintessential Art Nouveau floral imagery  So, we now present to you, for your viewing pleasure, four of his lovely images, previously published as postcards.

The first two of these images are companion pieces, depicting as they do the same lovely young woman with her impish smile. She wears flowing draperies and flowers to either side of her face. In one she stands and in the other she sits, but in both the background is a wonderful design of leaves and flowers, very much like the designs found in the artwork of Alphonse Mucha. These images remind us, also, of the artwork of John R. Neill, whose portraits of Ozma and the other young ladies who inhabited Oz so often depicted them in flowing gowns and with flowers framing their faces.

AVAILABLE FOR SALE Beautiful Art Nouveau Portrait of Young Woman by Arjalew, circa 1905
AVAILABLE FOR SALE Beautiful Art Nouveau Portrait by Arjalew, circa 1905

The following image, with its annotation "Bonne Fête," may have been intended as a card to be given on a birthday, or in celebration of the feast day of one's patron saint. Once more, we see that an enchanting Art Nouveau background has been used to frame the model whose attention seems to be coquettishly focused on the flowers she holds in her hands, rather than on the photographer and the camera he points at her.

SOLD Lovely Art Nouveau Image by Arjalew, circa 1905

Our final image is of a young woman who is identified by the annotation in the top right corner as Astarte, the Greek name for a goddess whose roles encompassed fertility and sexuality and who was once "known as the deified evening star." Astarte's robes follow the Classical pattern so favored by Arjalew and other photographers of La Belle Époque, but are daringly sheer, in keeping with her roles involving sex and procreation. Unlike the other cards in this set, the background is plain, designed to disappear, so that only the model and the heavy stone throne upon which she reclines are visible. Yet this image, in keeping with the others, makes liberal use of flowers as a design element crucial to the depiction of youth and beauty, sexuality, and fertility.

SOLD Stunning Art Nouveau Astarte by Arjalew, circa 1905