Is there not a little demiurge in every architect? Rare are the professions in which, under the impulse and the plans of a single personality, a concrete work rises ex nihilo, which generally survives him. While most of them are aware of this, few declare that their ambition is not to revolutionise their profession, but to create a style so personal that it is worthy of bearing their name. Hector Guimard dared to do so.
All the art historians who have studied Guimard’s work have not failed to note the immoderate use of the various qualifiers he used for his work. Secretly sorry or implicitly admiring his audacity in using the term « Style Guimard », they have noted that this display of pride made him the object of mockery, and assumed — no doubt rightly — that it had led to enmity, which undoubtedly contributed to his isolation from the contemporary art world. If it is perfectly true that the major French media dealing with decorative art, after having briefly taken an interest in him during the time of the Castel Béranger, then turned a blind eye to him, we now know that Guimard has always displayed an intense sociability that has partially compensated for this lack of recognition. In this article, we will try to better define these different qualifiers and the times in which Guimard may have used them. We will see that they do not follow one another in a linear fashion over time, as one might have thought, but are rather used according to his needs or desires.
A player in the early days in France of what we now call the Art Nouveau style, Guimard undoubtedly perceived very quickly the interest he had in finding by himself a name for his creation before the public, or rather the media, did it for him. It was also appropriate that this name should distinguish him from other renovators of architecture and decorative art. The name « style Art nouveau » had already been used in Belgium. Moreover, in 1895, a key date that marked the beginning of the creation of Castel Béranger, this name also became a commercial name in Paris with the opening of the gallery L’Art Nouveau Bing by the German-born merchant Siegfried Bing, who presented and sold a wide selection of French, European and American production in this style. It is understandable that it was therefore difficult for Guimard to accept this patronage for his personal work. His acute awareness of the value and originality of his creations certainly pushed him to find a qualifier that did not assimilate them to what was very quickly perceived by the press as an art of foreign import — in turn seen as Belgian or English — and which had been the subject of xenophobic (and anti-Semitic) rejection at the opening of the gallery L’Art Nouveau Bing. This last episode is to be placed in a context of nationalist unrest which only grew for a decade before the climax of the Dreyfus affair in 1898 and which then saw the clear victory of the nationalist right in the Paris municipal elections of 1900.
Some broad-minded authors admitted that a foreign influence, Belgian in this case, could revitalize modern French architecture. Thus, in a text dated November 29, 1898, published in 1899 in his work Visions de Notre Heure. Choses et gens qui passent (Visions of our time. Things and People Passing By), the writer Octave Uzanne thinks he has found in the person of Guimard the providential architect who seems to be sorely lacking in Paris. During his strolls through the capital, denouncing “the disturbing imaginative torpor of its architects,” “the silly order of its buildings,” or its “stupid architectonic”, he marveled at the originality of Castel Béranger and its “somewhat revolutionary architecture,” the fruit, according to him, of “a matured thought […] tending towards the renovation of architectural art. Happy, almost astonished to have “unearthed this work built and realized in Paris,” he drew on the example of Belgium and its ongoing architectural revolution – led in particular by Victor Horta – to express the wish that Guimard would impose himself in the same way in France as the leader of modern architects: “May Mr. Hector Guimard soon become our Horta from France! ».
But other authors, more closely related, such as Édouard Molinier in his article published in Art et Décoration in March 1899 about the Castel Béranger, reject this idea:
« Without denying Horta’s merit, there were perhaps better things for a French artist to do than to seek inspiration in Belgium. We would have preferred to witness an attempt, however incomplete, to resurrect the old French style. »
This exhortation to create a modern style that was truly French was then a leitmotif that seemed to many critics to find its fulfilment in the elegant and calm constructions of the architect Charles Plumet, whose work was seen as the ultimate avatar of the French Renaissance.
Several clues prove that Guimard was trying to escape the anathema of cosmopolitanism that could be thrown at him at any moment. From the first of his three articles devoted to Castel Béranger in 1896, the architect Louis-Charles Boileau had lit a counterfire to this accusation of foreign inspiration by pointing out to his readers that Guimard’s wallpapers were “not English”. This precision, no doubt brought at Guimard’s instigation, is at two levels of reading. First of all, it can, by antithesis, help the reader to better situate Guimard’s style by opposing it to the English style as regards wallpapers, a style then well-known and well recognizable. But it also wants to place itself on a political and nationalist level.
Shortly after Boileau’s article, in January 1897, Charles Genuys, a former professor of Guimard at the National School of Decorative Arts, published in La Revue des Arts Décoratifs an article vigorously entitled “Soyons Français! “ (“Let us be French!”) in which he warned against the temptation that modern decorative artists might be seek to follow the footsteps of foreign artists, especially Belgians. Genuys is aiming here at the so-called “Belgian line”, i.e. the trend led by Henry Van de Velde who, unlike Horta, refuted any idea of inspiration from nature to build a purely linear and abstract decor and structure. This text by Genuys, which actually supports Guimard’s efforts, can however also resonate as a warning to those who, although he says he always wants to refer to the inexhaustible spectacle of nature, nevertheless favors arrangements of abstract lines.
Thus one can better understand the wording of the sign on the stand designed by Guimard for the company Gilardoni & Brault at the Exhibition of Ceramics at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in 1897. It reads that the porch of a large Parisian dwelling exhibited there is in the « Style Moderne National ». Although ephemeral, the use of this term did not escape the notice of the decorator Eugène Belville, who, in the 1897 magazine Notes d’art et d’archéologie, ironically criticised Guimard’s use of the term, who, he wrote, « epigraphed his madreporic constructions with the title of Style National Moderne ». He warned him against the pretension that some people « are creating a style » that could « raise public mistrust » as opposed to those who would « content themselves with looking for style ».
Apparently abandoning this adjective « national » without any return, as early as 1898, Guimard mentioned on the invitations to the exhibition devoted to the Castel Béranger in the premises of Le Figaro that these were « compositions in a new style ».
This new expression, probably too close to “Art nouveau”, will no longer be used, with one exception. In 1911, the hardware house Paquet in Grenoble, France, committed itself, at the request of the architect, to use the formula “Modèle Style Nouveau H.G.” to designate the porcelain doorknob it manufactured for Guimard and But in reality, the wording used in the published catalog will retain the architect’s initials while deleting the “Style Nouveau”.
On the plans of the villa Canivet dated 13 and 20 April 1899, the mention « Architecte d’Art » appears in the stamp. Although it is possible that the stamp was added later on this plan, as early as the following year, at the time of the World Exhibition, Guimard used this term. He will remain faithful to it for at least a decade since it still appeared in 1909 on his wedding announcement.
By this Guimard simply meant that he wished to give his entire production an artistic character that would distinguish it from ordinary architectural and decorative productions. A few years later, in 1908, the title « Fontes artistiques » (artistic castings) in his catalogues published by the Saint-Dizier foundry would participate in the same qualitative inflation by wanting to indicate a production with a true artistic character, unlike almost all other ornamental castings on the market. But doesn’t wanting to distinguish oneself from the others by pointing out its eminently artistic quality also mean belittling one’s own? We know the artisanal and manual character of the usual work of a blacksmith or carpenter. And it is therefore easy to accept that he is known as an « ironworker of art » and « carpenter of art » when his production deserves it. However, it is much less well accepted that an architect, who is assumed to have studied at the National School of Fine Arts, should call himself an « Architect of Art » (especially with capital letters).
The first press article referring to this term was probably Pascal Forthuny’s description of the furniture at the Universal Exhibition, published in the magazine Le Mois littéraire et pittoresque in December 1900:
« (…) M. Guimard — by what concept is he blinded? — claims to be an art architect (!) and to have created a style! […] And what does this mean? And finally, does an individual create a style? And does Mr Guimard have the right to deny his origins? »
These last words of Forthuny’s article « and having created a style » suggest that Guimard also began to use the term « Style Guimard » at this time. This is confirmed by Eugène Déjardin’s order for his « Déjardin French Malt Extract » stand at the Universal Exhibition for a series of « Guimard-style Vikado showcase furniture ».
In 1901, just a few months after the publication of Forthuny’s text, an issue of La Vie Moderne published an anonymous but fascinating article entitled « Le Style Guimard ». It is probably one of the most accomplished period texts on the subject. Drawing on his most recent works such as the Castel Béranger or the accesses to the metro — which he criticized favourably — and then on the architect’s career and personality, the author does not at any time seem shocked by the use of this expression. On the contrary, he offers a detailed explanation, justifying its use by the logic that animates his constructions, the harmony of a naturalistic style skillfully drawn from the historical repertories while being rid of its superfluous ornaments and the beauty of a line whose finesse and simplicity he underlines:
« …the curves, the inflections of these lines obey a general idea; a preconceived theory whose realisation confers on the object a distinctive mark, an originality of its own, a personal style which is, why not say it? the Guimard Style. »
A debate has thus begun, through articles, on the legitimacy of the architect to give his name to a style. Guimard will never have disturbed as much, aroused contrary feelings, irreconcilable positions as at that time considered as one of the key periods of his career. The controversy reached its climax at the 1903 Housing Exhibition at the Grand Palais, where the words « Pavillon Style Guimard » were clearly displayed on the enamelled lava sign on the porch of Guimard’s pavilion.
It accompanies that of « Architect of Art » on the series of postcards sold on this occasion. It is also the subject of an explanatory text entitled « Le Style Guimard » which appears on the leaflet used to wrap the cards and on the back of the leaflet accompanying the lecture he gave on 27 October at the Grand Palais. Guimard explained his architectural principles based on the « Logic, Harmony and Sentiment » trilogy that he had developed since his 1899 lecture in the lounges of Le Figaro.
Seen by many as an unbearable lack of modesty, this « Style Guimard » mention is, of course, just as badly received as the qualifier « Architect of Art ». In addition to the singularity of this term, singular since no other contemporary artist, decorator or architect risks imitating it, its use also implies a break with the past and the process of linking styles to one another. This is what Forthuny meant to denounce by writing: « Does Mr. Guimard have the right to deny his origins? » That is to say, does Guimard not want to deny what he owes to medieval art, Baroque art, Oriental art and more recently to Horta, Hankar or Van de Velde? Some critics therefore do not admit that a contemporary artist might want to give his name to a style when the great decorators of the past did not have this pretension. This opinion prevailed in the major decorative art magazines, such as Art et Décoration, in which an anonymous article was published in October 1903 commenting on the Housing Exhibition at the Grand Palais:
« M. Guimard, in his pavilion, offers us an unbalanced mixture of good and bad things. The artist still needs to settle down a little. But what a strange pretension leads him to decorate his work with signs informing visitors that they are allowed to admire the Guimard Style! I don’t think that our great decorators, Du Cerceau, Meissonnier, have ever baptised their style in this way, and yet… »
On the contrary, La Fronde, another newspaper that did not specialise in decorative art, came to his rescue in an article dated 16 August 1903, entitled « Le Style Guimard » and signed La Dame D. Voilée (the D. veiled Lady). This first feminist daily, engaged in many progressive struggles, the first of which was the demand for the place of women in society, considered the criticisms of Guimard to be excessive:
« (Those who despise the Guimard Style), did they not notice in the night, all the way over there at the Porte Dauphine, two large fireflies shining through trees and shrubs, with a mysterious charm, these are two kiosks of the Metro. What sign, what gas ramp or electric advertisement would be both more meaningful and more elegant than these two phosphorescent cages that so kindly indicate the location of the Metro stations ».
At the end of that same year 1903, in the same way as in Art et Décoration, Guimard was severely attacked by the art critic and specialist in the history of French furniture Roger De Félice in his review of the Salon d’Automne published in the magazine L’Art Décoratif. His commentary on Guimard’s submission (consisting of watercolour drawings) is first of all ironic about the qualifiers « Architecte d’Art » and « Style Guimard » before claiming that these proud mentions are only there to enhance an unnecessarily complicated work:
« Mr. Hector Guimard also presents us with projects of decorative ensembles, but in the form of simple watercolour sketches. M. Guimard plunges the public into great perplexity. His card is there, bearing these words engraved in singular characters: Hector Guimard, Architect of Art. And the public wonders: What can it be, an Architect of Art? And above all an architect who is not an architect of Art? We have never seen M. Plumet, for example, who is indeed an authentic artist, and a great artist, declare himself to be an Architect of Art. The public is approaching and searching. It learns first of all, from M. Guimard himself, because he proclaims it on many labels, the existence of a Guimard Style. […]. Art’s architecture consists of course in the horror of simplicity and straight lines which, curving, hunchbacking everything, goes so far as to give simple pillows a cleverly contoured shape… And also in refinements such as these inclined planes replacing the vulgar step by which one reaches a raised alcove elsewhere… Finally in the useless, if not unusable, look that everything takes on here, which is undoubtedly the supreme degree of luxury… »
Unable to allow such a hostile article to pass, Guimard had a reply published in the supplement of the magazine in February 1904. While criticising De Félice for not doing his job as an art critic, he justified the term « Architect of Art » by its Greek etymology (archos, chief and tecton, worker), reserving the right to add the word « d’Art », which he considered justified in the light of banal and unartistic constructions produced by professionals calling themselves « Architects ». Still in his response to De Félice, to define the « Guimard Style », he reiterated the formulas he had already placed in his little manifesto printed on the packaging of his postcards and on the back of the invitation to his conference at the Grand Palais: « satisfy everyone’s programme, use modern resources, take advantage of the progress of science applied to all branches of human activity, express the character of matter », which he summed up once again in his trilogy « logic, harmony and feeling ». However, this programme, which reflects the rationalist side of his creation, lacks the unbridled decorative inventiveness that rejected most critics and the public at the time and which is so attractive to us now. In fact, he will never want to explain himself on this dreamlike and fantastic side of the « Guimard Style », no doubt considering it to be a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.
Curiously, such a badly damaged relationship between the two men found a rather happy outcome in the article which De Félice again devoted to the 1904 Salon d’Automne. With much less irony, he then commented favourably on Guimard’s sending of three sets of furniture: « […] because M. Guimard himself, the art architect, seems this time to be timidly sacrificing simplicity and reason. […] »
A few years later, in 1907, Guimard presented at the exhibition of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs a very large stand with a large number of his ornamental iron pieces casted in Saint-Dizier. In his report published in the magazine Art et Décoration, Paul Cornu expressed the same reproaches as in 1903 about the expression « Style Guimard » which certainly accompanied the stand:
« Mr. Guimard thinks he has created a style. He even gives it his name. In reality, he has only created a formula, but submits all the materials to it. Iron, cast iron, bronze, wood, staff, stoneware, stained glass, fabrics, in turn translate his inextinguishable thirst for decoration. »
Fortunately, in more confidential or professional journals, some authors are much more lenient about the legitimacy of the expression « Style Guimard ». This is the case of Royaumont in his report of the same salon of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs in 1907, published in the Revue Illustrée. While noting that Guimard influenced his style by revisiting those of past centuries, he admits that this very recognizable creation, extending to all fields, cannot be described in any other way:
« (…) but the most complete part is the fragment of the dining room, the whole of which proves that modern art has been able to benefit from the works of the past and that it can, in skillful hands, continue its tradition. And all this, however, with such a personality of touch, that one could not find to define these forms any other name than Guimard style! »
Commenting again on the same exhibition, the Journal de la Marbrerie et de l’Art Décoratif, in three issues, gives one of the few really enthusiastic articles on Guimard’s work in general and on his exhibition in particular; so enthusiastic, moreover, that one wonders whether the architect might not have held the journalist’s penholder. He justifies in passing the legitimacy of the expression « Style Guimard »
« The qualities of this work, where the most exact logic unites with the most sensitive distinction, shows to what extent the appellation Style Guimard given to the works of this artist is justified. »
Adamant, Guimard will continue to use the term « Style Guimard » in the following years. It appears, as mentioned above, on signs displayed on the stands of the exhibitions and fairs in which he took part, but also more concretely on certain works, such as the commercial prints of some of his ornamental castings. Thus, around 1912, new models of cast iron bench legs (GO and GN) were designed and prominently bore the words « Style Guimard » inscribed in an indentation. The GB coffin handle, also marked « Style Guimard », may have been designed after the First World War.
The serial production of objects for the architectural décor has mobilised a great deal of creative energy on Guimard’s part. Produced in collaboration with industrialists or workshops, these editions are an opportunity to publish specific catalogues in which the existence of the « Style Guimard » is mentioned as much as possible. We will examine later the particular case of the catalogues of ornamental castings, but each plate of the catalogue of his Lustres Lumière, published before 1914, receives the mention « Style Guimard ». It is the same for the gouache drawings of the chandeliers we know…
The draft agreement drawn up in November 1908 by the carpet manufacturer Aubert also provides for the registration of the drawings provided to the Commercial Court under the heading « Style Guimard ». We have no information on the other catalogue projects that Guimard seems to have thought of (mirrors, vases, cutlery and perhaps even tombs), but for the furniture, the contract he signed in 1913 with the manufacturers at Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Olivier and Desbordes, clearly stipulates that the designs will be registered under the name « Style Guimard » and that a special catalogue bearing the words « Style Guimard » will be printed in 3,000 copies at the expense of Olivier-Desbordes.
The last occurrence we know of the architect’s participation in a commercial catalog is the “Lambris Guimard” which appears in the 1926 Elo catalog. This company specialized in publishing fibro-cement wall decorations, a material Guimard became interested in late in his career, notably for the town hall of the French Village at the 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs (Decorative Arts Exhibition).
It seems that Guimard’s perseverance finally had some results and brought the expression « Style Guimard » into the language of the time, at least in Paris. But for there to be a popularisation of an expression which relates to the artistic field, it is necessary that it be taken up and propagated by the non-specialised press. Such an example is offered to us by the article of an anonymous author who, commenting on the great works in Paris in La Politique Coloniale of September 7, 1903 , gives his opinion on one of the recurring debates of the time: whether or not to maintain the Eiffel Tower. He spoke out against its destruction but, he continued, if something were to happen to it, he would like it « to be rebuilt elsewhere, in the Guimard style, the only architect to have made real use of ornamentation with iron up to that time »…
In this quest for recognition, Guimard was undoubtedly helped by a friendly and literary circle of early followers such as Georges Bans, Fernand Hauser, Émile Straus or Stanislas Ferrand. Another fervent defender of the architect, the poet and art critic Alcanter de Brahm was a great admirer of Guimard’s ideas. He frequently used the expression « Style Guimard » when he wrote about architecture and the decorative arts, notably in the magazine La Critique, of which he was one of the main editors, but also in larger-circulation newspapers such as the XIXème siècle or Le Rappel, contributing in his own way to popularising the expression. Always in touch with this friendly circle, La Critique thus delivers an anecdote which takes place during the party offered by Guimard at the beginning of 1909 on the occasion of his engagement. The journalist and poet Fernand Hauser speaks about the « growing popularity » of the « innovative art forms » defended by Guimard and relates a personal anecdote in these words:
« It’s the upcoming glory that’s on the horizon. I witnessed it the other day in one of our department stores when a customer, on the occasion of a Christmas gift, was bargaining an art object, and the clerk selling her this article added: This is what we do best now, it’s Guimard style. »
In this particular case, the article in question is probably not an object created by Guimard and it would therefore already be a shift in meaning that globalises the production of Art Nouveau style decorative art under the name of Guimard.
Another poet, this one largely passed on to posterity, has shown less judgement concerning Guimard than his predecessors, who have remained more obscure. Guillaume Apollinaire, since he is the one in question, had a fairly extensive career as an art critic in the press. Being in daily contact with the most modern artists, especially painters, he was much less sensitive to decorative art and architecture. In L’Intransigeant he uses the expression « Style Guimard » to comment on the architect’s submissions to the salons of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs. With his cold writing and an almost blasé tone, he suggests that his works leave him cold, even if quoting his works seems to be a must. In 1911 first of all, ignoring the architect’s stylistic evolution, he mentions without nuancing it the stylistic kinship with the metro :
« Mr. Guimard exhibits photographs of the house of which he is the architect, furniture, jewellery and other small objects. Nothing to say about it. It’s the Guimard style and you know the Metro. »
Then again in 1913, with the same ambiguity but this time in the past tense:
« M. Guimard was so much influenced by what has been called the Guimard style that his plans and photographs of buildings cannot be ignored. »
The appearance of the mention « Modern Style » is more difficult to spot. Being less controversial, it is not the subject of acrimonious lines towards Guimard in the press. The word « modern » immediately brings to mind « Modern Style », one of the expressions used to designate the Art Nouveau style. As much as ours, the 1900’s era was fond of Anglicisms. However, they can also be used with a slightly pejorative meaning. This is the case with « Modern Style », which is not an English import term, but an expression forged with the intention of denouncing once again the real or supposed foreign origins of Art Nouveau. This word « modern » is also found in practically all of Guimard’s theoretical writings from the beginning of his conversion to Art Nouveau, since the portfolio he devoted to Castel Béranger is entitled: L’Art dans l’Habitation Moderne and we saw it used in 1897 alongside « national ».
At the 1900 World’s Fair, Guimard created a remarkable stand for the perfumer Millot. With a view to a homogeneous presentation, in addition to the decor and furniture, he was also commissioned to create models of bottles and boxes for the launch of several new perfumes and their derivatives. These models can be found in the perfumer’s commercial catalog, in the form of colorized drawings with the names of the perfumes and the company name “F. Millot” calligraphied by Guimard, without his name appearing. The heading of these three pages is “PARFUMERIES STYLE MODERNE”, a mention which is not repeated on the other pages of the catalog.
The word “modern” immediately brings to mind “Modern Style”, one of the expressions used to designate the Art Nouveau style. As much as ours, the 1900’s era was fond of Anglicisms. However, they can also be used with a slightly pejorative meaning. This is sometimes the case of “Modern Style” which is not an English import term, but which may have been used with the intention of denouncing again the real or supposed foreign origins of Art Nouveau. However, this term quickly became part of everyday language and may be found, in the francized form of “Style Moderne”, in another commercial catalog published in 1902, which includes models by Guimard. It is that of the foundry Bigot-Renaux, specialized in gutters to which Guimard frequently had recourse for Castel Béranger. This Meuse-based company published several of its models intended for the equipment of its buildings, as well as the pavilions and kiosks of the subway. It should be noted, however, that for this catalog, Guimard probably did not have the mastery of the mentions used in the header of the plate.
It was around 1906-1910 that the adjective « modern » came back more insistently. Guimard then planned to build a series of investment properties financed by the « Société Générale de Constructions Modernes » (formed in July 1910), of which he was a shareholder, along with his father-in-law and Léon Nozal. This project included a new street to be subdivided, which he planned to name « rue Moderne ». It was actually opened under this name in 1911 and became rue Agar the following year, which did not prevent Guimard from keeping the name « Rue Moderne » in the plans reproduced in the article in the supplement to the magazine La Construction Moderne of 9 February 1913.
A decade later, in 1923, Guimard became vice-president of the « Groupe des Architectes Modernes », founded in anticipation of the 1925 exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts.
The pattern castings catalogues created by Guimard and published at the Saint-Dizier foundry from 1908 onwards offer an illuminating example of the use of the terms « Style Guimard » and « Style Moderne ». Before our research in 2015 on this subject, it had not been noticed that in reality two types of catalogues had been published.
One of the two types of catalogues bears on its cover the mention in lettering designed by Guimard « Artistic fonts/for/constructions/heating appliances/garden art/graves » and in a cartouche at the bottom, the mention « Style Guimard ». There is therefore no mention on the cover of the name of the foundry which produces these castings. On the inside of each plate, the words « Style H.Guimard » are printed on the upper part of each plate, placed below the name of the category of models presented. Only on the lower part of the plates is the discreet mention « Modèle de la Société F. S. D. » which indicates, in a way that is not clear to the uninitiated, the Fonderie de Saint-Dizier. Due to the large number of references to the name Guimard, we refer to this type of catalogue as « Style Guimard ».
The other type of catalogue bears on its cover the mention in lettering designed by Guimard: « Artistic castings/for/Constructions/Heating appliances/Gardens/Gardens/Sepultures/Modern style ». The inscriptions were designed in a completely different way from those on the cover of the first type of catalogue. The letters are smaller and finer because it was necessary to make room for a sur-title « Fonderies de Saint-Dizier / — Haute-Marne — » separated from the main title by a drawing of a font playing the role of a net. In the cartouche at the bottom of the title, this time the words « Leclerc et Cie » (Leclerc and Co.) appear, which was the commercial name of the foundry at the time.
On the upper part of each plate are affixed the words « Société des fonderies de St-Dizier (Haute-Marne) /Leclerc & Cie ».
Each plate also bears the mention « Style Moderne », placed below the name of the category of models presented, but one would look in vain for the name of the architect. To give a counterpart to the « Style Guimard » catalogue we therefore refer to this type of catalogue as « Style Moderne ».
Apart from the differences indicated, these two types of castings’ catalogues have the same contents and will have the same increases in pagination from 1908 to about 1920. We conclude that they are parallel and not successive editions. The « Style Guimard » catalogue would be one of the many « Style Guimard » catalogues envisaged and would therefore be for the personal use of the architect. The other edition, the « Style Moderne » catalogue, more in line with commercial requirements, would be intended for use by the foundry.
Even though it was used more often in the decade preceding the First World War, « Style Moderne » did not supplant « Style Guimard » as previously thought. It is simply used when greater discretion is required. It is also undoubtedly an attempt to catch up with a concept of modernity that is increasingly eluding Guimard and hatching elsewhere and with others.
Of the two expressions, however, it is indeed « Style Guimard » that will continue after the First World War. It would be too tedious to list the articles that used it after this break, but we have seen it used regularly until the Second World War alongside other expressions such as « Style 1900 » or « Style Métro ».
In the 1920s, in the midst of the blossoming of the style soon to be called « Art Deco » (in reference to the Exposition des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes of 1925) the tone is often mocking to evoke the decorative art of the beginning of the century. However, some journalists, more clairvoyant than others, noted as early as 1925 that the « Style Guimard » had left such a lasting impression that the expression was on the verge of being passed on to posterity. Thus the newspaper L’oeuvre féminine of 8 July 1925, in an article on the exhibition of the renovators of applied art at the Galliera Museum, observed that some of these artists « still alive, happier than all the others, are today witnessing the triumph of their common cause: that of the architect Hector Guimard, for example, who, with his considerable fortune, left his name to a style ».
The use of the term finally evolved in the 1930s when certain authorities became aware of the need to protect a few representative samples of works from the beginning of the century. « Style Guimard » then became one of the « official » formulas to designate this period.
A few years later, the expression began to gain recognition on the other side of the Atlantic. Alfred Barr himself, the brilliant first director of MOMA Museum in New York, aware of the specificity of Guimard’s plastic language, exchanged ideas with the widow of the architect, who had died some time before, certainly with a view to a donation. In a letter addressed to Adeline Oppenheim Guimard, he wrote: « these pieces should be particularly significant of the Guimard Style » then, citing a handful of umbrellas as an example, he described it as: « an excellent example of the Guimard’s Style at its best and purest », summing up in a few words all the strength of the style invented by Guimard.
The post-World War II period was to be ruthless for Art Nouveau. In a context of well-established certainties and almost sheepish intolerance, a whole panoply of human artistic genius will be swallowed up for two to three decades. Even if the story of its rediscovery goes far beyond the subject of our article, it should be noted that the expression « Style Guimard » will not be so easily reimposed. It will compete with the appellations we mentioned above (« Style 1900 » or « Style Métro »), other scornful ones such as « Style Noodle » and even an appellation as whimsical as « Style Jules Verne » proposed by auctioneer Maurice Rheims, but which will not be very successful. The names of other emblematic artists of this style, such as the Nancy artists Gallé or Majorelle, whose production volumes place them at the forefront of the art market, are also used to characterise it.
This short study devoted to the qualifiers applied by Guimard to his work may seem anecdotal at first, but it is revealing of several of Guimard’s traits of character and how they interacted with his environment and the development of his career. The flexibility with which he adopted this or that qualification shows that he constantly reflected on the perception and acceptance that the public might have of his work. But the repeated choice of the term « Style Guimard » shows how much the architect wanted to « stand out » and obtain the recognition and social advancement that the usual channels of the academic curriculum had not provided. By disregarding the conventions of the time, he did not hesitate to be as disturbing for the formal side of his creation as for the way he qualified it.
These expressions, however, offered a convenient angle of attack to all those who only wanted to see the formal strangeness or virtuosity of this creation and who, without seeking to understand Guimard’s creative approach, which was based more on the properties of materials and the translation of forces contributing to the structure of objects and architecture, wanted to make people believe that the same tormented aspect could take on all kinds of products, whatever their size, materials or functions.
Frédéric Descouturelle and Olivier Pons
Translation : Alan Bryden
 Siegfried Bing (Hamburg, 1838 – Vaucresson 1905) was an art dealer initially specialising in the arts of the Far East, collector, art critic and editor of the magazine Le Japon artistique.
 « It all smells like vicious English, the morphine-addicted Jewess or the crafty Belgian, or a pleasant salad of these three poisons! » Alexandre, Arsène, Le Figaro, 28 December 1895.
 Boileau, Louis-Charles, L’Architecture, 19 December 1896.
 In contrast to those frequently used by Horta to dress some of its interior decorations.
 The National Exhibition of Ceramics and all the Arts of Fire was held at the Palace of Fine Arts on the Champ-de-Mars from 15 May to 31 July 1897 and was extended until 5 September.
 Eugène-Auguste Chevassus (1863-1931) known as Eugène Belville, painter, decorator and art critique.
 Adeline Oppenheim Papers, The Public Library of New-York.
 Drawing GP 552 et GP 559, fonds Guimard, Musée d’Orsay.
 Georges Léopold Cochet (1872-1962) known as Pascal Forthuny, writer,art critic and musician
 Forthuny, Pascal, « Le Meuble à l’Exposition » (Furniture at the Exhibition), Le Mois littéraire et pittoresque, December 1900, p. 701-704.
 The vikado is a dark wood imported from South America, which was used by many French cabinetmakers between 1900 and 1914.
 Vigne, Georges, Hector Guimard, éditions Charles Moreau, 2003, p. 111
 La Vie Moderne, 1st semester 1901.
 Guimard, Hector, « La Renaissance de l’art dans l’architecture moderne » (the Renaissance of art in modern architecture), Le Moniteur des Arts, 7 July 1899.
 Even if La Fronde is known to have been entirely managed and edited by women, La Dame D. Voilée is one of the pen names of Charles-Antoine Fournier (1835-1909), writer, art critic and collector, who usually signed as Jean Dolent. For the anecdote, this pseudonym is a (thinly veiled) allusion to an episode of the Dreyfus Affair, at the end of 1897, during which a mysterious veiled lady would have given Esterhazy (the real spy in the service of Germany) a damning document for Dreyfus. The Dreyfusard cartoonists were delighted to depict the veiled lady in question with the pants and spurs of a cavalry officer.
 De Felice, Roger, L’Art appliqué au Salon d’Automne, L’Art Décoratif, December 1903, p. 234.
 De Felice, Roger, L’Art appliqué au Salon d’Automne, L’Art Décoratif, décembre 1904, p. 134.
 Cornu, Paul, « L’Exposition des Artistes Décorateurs », Art et Décoration, 1907, p. 200.
 Louis-Étienne Baudier known as Baudier de Royaumont (1854-1918) is a journalist, editor, novel write and historian. He will become the first curator of the House of Balzac.
 Royaumont, « Art et Décoration », Revue Illustrée, 1907, p. 775.
 « Le Salon des Artistes Décorateurs au Musée des arts décoratifs/L’Art moderne », Journal de la Marbrerie et de l’Art décoratif, supplement to n° 101 of 5 January 1908 of the Revue Générale de la Construction.
 Marcel Bernhardt known as Alcanter de Brahm (1868-1942) is a writer, poet, art critic and later became assistant curator of the Carnavalet Museum. He is known in particular for having brought back the irony mark (he is not the inventor, as we have read here and there, this merit going to Marcellin Jobard, owner of the Courrier Belge, who first used it in the early 1840s). We will soon be publishing an article on La Critique et Guimard, a subject on which some charming nonsense with a mystical-esoteric tone has been read.
 La Critique, February 1909.
 L’Intransigeant 25/02/1911.
 L’Intransigeant 28/02/1913.
 The press also refers to : « le style Modern ».
 Plans of the projects archived at the Cooper-Hewity museum, New York. On the plan of the first project in 1906, the street is simply referred to as « Rue Nouvelle » (new street). In November 1909, the developer’s name was the « Société Immobilière de la rue Moderne » and, on the plans, the street to be created was actually named « Rue Moderne » (modern street). In April 1911, when the buildings were built, the plans still refered to a « Rue Moderne ». It should be noted that there was already an “Avenue Moderne” in the 19th arrondissement, which was in fact a small private street about twenty metres long, open since 1903, as well as a « Villa Moderne » in the 14th arrondissement.
 La Construction Moderne, 10 novembre 1912 ; Dictionnaire historique des rues de Paris, p. 68. The street was given the stage name (Agar) of the actress Léonide Charvin who lived in the house adjacent on the right to the hotel Mezzara.
 Composed for the most part of former students of Charles Genuys, Hector Guimard’s teacher at the National School of Decorative Arts, the Group of Modern Architects planned the construction of a large hotel for travellers for the 1925 exhibition, before being entrusted with the creation of the French Village. Guimard built the town hall as well as a tomb and a small chapel in the cemetery adjoining the village.
 Descouturelle, Frédéric, Les Fontes ornementales de l’architecte Hector Guimard produites à la fonderie de Saint-Dizier (Ornemental castings of architect Hector Guimard produced at the Saint-Dizier foundry), memoir for a Master II, EPHE, under the direction of Jean-François Belhoste, 2015.
 Papers Adeline Oppenheim, The Public Library of New-York.