The exuberance of Art Nouveau

If Art Nouveau speaks to you, then Nancy is the city to visit. The “École de Nancy,” a group of artists and architects founded by the glassmaster and furniture maker Émile Gallé, worked in that style at the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century. It was their work which made Nancy a center of art and architecture that rivaled Paris and helped give the city the nickname “Capitale de l’Est.” The city still has many Art Nouveau buildings. Furniture, glassware, and other outstanding samples of decorative arts are on display at the Musée de l’École de Nancy, housed in the 1909 villa of Eugène Corbin, a Nancy businessman and arts supporter.

We were able to tour it this morning, and were amazed at the amount and the quality of furniture and glass.

With the death of Stanislas, the last Duke of Lorraine, in 1766, the duchy became a French province and Nancy remained its capital. In 1871, Nancy remained French when Prussia annexed Alsace-Lorraine. The flow of French refugees reaching Nancy doubled its population in three decades. Artistic, academic, financial and industrial excellence flourished, establishing what is still Nancy’s trademark to this day. The square named for Stanislas is pure magic, and considered one of the most beautiful plazas in Europe.

Our quick tour of the city impressed us, and our lunch at the Brasserie L’Excelsior was quite special. Nancy was worth more time than we could give it, but maybe someday we can return.

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