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Decorative Arts after 1890

VMFA houses one of the most significant public collections of decorative arts in the French Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, spanning the years 1895 through 1935. Highlights include lamps by Louis Comfort Tiffany, American and British Arts and Crafts objects by major architects and designers, and a distinguished group of Art Deco objects made in Paris.

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Among the highlights of the VMFA collection of Decorative Arts 1890 to the Present are these examples in the Sydney and Frances Lewis Decorative Arts Galleries. These objects are some of the finest and rarest examples of their type in the United States. The museum specializes in objects in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles by leading designers and artists of the time, representing a wide range of materials and forms.


VMFA boasts one of the finest collections of European and American furniture dating from about 1880 to 1935. An iconic chair in humble oak, a piano veneered with rare woods, and a sofa in the shape of a canoe are representative of the many objects by key designers working in the Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco styles.

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American and European ceramics from the turn of the last century through the 1930s are included in the collections at VMFA. Iconic examples of earthenware, stoneware and porcelain are featured.

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The collection of jewelry at the VMFA dazzles with important and representative examples. Major artists, such as Alphonse Mucha, Georges Fouquet, René Lalique, Henri Vever, Raymond Templier, and others are on display in the Sydney and Frances Lewis Decorative arts Galleries.

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Works on Paper

Posters, preliminary designs, and rare books add layers to the decorative arts collection. There are almost two-hundred American posters from the turn of the twentieth century, and a selection of European posters in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles.

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The museum’s collection of glass includes a group of objects – lamps, windows, vases, among other works – by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his various firms. There are also several examples of French Art Nouveau glass by Émile Gallé.

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VMFA’s collection of metalwork in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles includes examples by major artists and designers. Works by Archibald Knox (British), Jean Puiforcat (French), and Alphonse Mucha (French) are on view in the Sydney and Frances Lewis Decorative Arts Galleries.

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Majorelle Piano

Thanks to the generous donation of the Sydney and Frances Lewis Collection in 1985, VMFA has the largest museum collection of French Art Nouveau furniture by Louis Majorelle in the United States. This rare and magnificent grand piano, made in Nancy, France, is a true masterpiece in the Art Nouveau style. Watch the piano being tuned and then played by Dr. Joanne Kong, Department of Music, University of Richmond.

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