The Ecole de Nancy, defined as the ‘Provincial Alliance of the Industries of Art’, was the launch pad of Art Nouveau in France. Following the loss of Alsace to the Germans in 1870, The Ecole was founded by a group of artists, expert in glass, woodwork, iron, ceramics and more, with the aim to make Nancy a distinguished city.
In June of this year, Art Pursuits Abroad headed to this varied city, led by our expert lecturer, Justine Hopkins.
Nancy is probably best known for the Place Stanislas. This magnificent square, completed in 1755 by architect Emmanuel Heré, was part of an urban planning project, linking the mediaeval town and other existing buildings. Renovated in 2005, based on original 18thc plans, it is the start of our tour.
Our base is the 4 star Grand Hotel de la Reine, situated right on the square. The public rooms of the hotel retain their grandeur of days gone by, whilst the guest rooms are spacious and recently renovated, with comfortable beds and refurbished bathrooms. We took rooms to the side of the hotel, which were cool and quiet.
A good, varied breakfast is served in what was once the ballroom, taking full advantage of the panoramic view of the square.
The tour encompasses all aspects of the city. From the Hôtel de Ville, and the Musée des Beaux Arts in the Place Stanislas, to a comprehensive tour of the old town and visit to the Gothic Cathedral.
Justine’s in-depth knowledge of the city enabled us to discover many other Art Nouveau jewels in the business district: the Jacques Grüber stained-glass roof of the Crédit Lyonnais; the windows of the Chambre de Commerce; the Eugène Vallin façade of the Société Générale, to name but a few.
A tour of Nancy would not be complete without visits to Maison Bergeret, and Villa Majorelle. These houses, which were built to demonstrate the talents of the Ecole de Nancy, feature works by Majorelle, Vallin, Prouvé, Janin and Grüber.
Whilst absorbing so much new and enlightening information, there was also time to enjoy some French cuisine and sample the local Moselle wine at some of the fine restaurants near to the Place Stanislas. Our farewell dinner took place at the Brasserie Excelsior, one of the most splendid examples of the Art Nouveau style. Brasserie Excelsior’s, which opened in 1911, features glass windows by Grüber, mahogany furniture by Majorelle and wrought iron bannisters by Prouvé.
For those of us that were new to Art Nouveau, as well as members of the group who had already experienced its influence in different cities. Justine’s explanations fulfilled the expectations of all.
If you wish to discover Nancy’s formidable examples of Art Nouveau or renew and add to a previous experience we’d love to hear from you.