About this artwork
The Belgian architect and designer Henry van de Velde was one of the primary exponents of Art Nouveau, an international design style informed by the English Arts and Crafts Movement that was born in the 1880s and flourished at the turn of the twentieth century. This samovar, or Russian teakettle, beautifully illustrates the adroit mixture of taut lines and curvilinear motifs that characterizes Van de Velde’s mature Art Nouveau style. The sinuous organic lines of its base twist and snake around upright brackets and pick up again in the braided band motif of the teak handle. The kettle itself is simple in form, unornamented, and, with a prominent hinge on the spout cover, appears to be more engineered than crafted. This example was made from silvered brass and teak in accord with Van de Velde’s philosophy that art should be accessible and affordable to a broad public (though other examples were made of more costly silver). The kettle was designed at the Weimar School of Applied Arts, where Van de Velde became director in 1904. That school later became the Bauhaus, the bastion of modern design.
- Henry van de Velde
- Silvered brass and teak
- 37.9 × 28.5 × 23.5 cm (14 7/8 × 11 1/4 × 9 1/4 in.)
- Gift of the Historical Design Collection; Mr. and Mrs. F. Lee Wendell and European Decorative Arts Purchase funds; Edward E. Ayer Endowment in memory of Charles L. Hutchinson; Bessie Bennett Endowment; Edward Chase Garvey Memorial; Walter C. Clark, Mrs. Oscar Klein, Mrs. R.W. Morris, and Mrs. I. Newton Perry