The History of Art Deco Figural Lamps

Egyptian Moon Lamp by Ronson Metal Works
Cleopatra by Movier - J. B. Hursch, 1940s
Floor Move by Balleste, 1920s

Frankart Nude Lamp, 1930s
Nuart Metal Creations Double Nude, 1930s
A Special Dance by Van De Voorde, 1920s
At its peak during the "Roaring Twenties," Art Deco heavily influenced the mindsets and lifestyles of the times. Art Deco, as an art form, reflected the shift in social values, aspirations, desires, fantasies, expectations and changing political and moral climates of the times. For all practical intents and purposes, it was a mirror of the turbulent times. As an international art form, Art Deco promoted a spontaneous acceptance of worldliness that crossed International boundaries by incorporating influences of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Aztec, African and Far Eastern art themes and historical objects. The Art Deco craze moved swiftly across Europe and then across the Atlantic and even the Pacific.

Nowhere is the true Art Deco theme more clearly illustrated than in the vintage art deco figural lamp venue, which showcases some of the finest examples of this artistic style and its emergence into art, collections and home interiors. Unlike traditional elaborate and high end Art Nouveau metal works, Art Deco, through modernization of production, ushered in an age of affordability that allowed the often overlooked middle class an opportunity to own beautiful and useful items such as art deco lamps. Although, even Art Deco figural lamps had their reserved high end art works by French, English, German, Belgian, Italian and American artist and foundries, it was, for the most part, accessible for the general buying public. This attributed to even wider popularity as an art form in America.

In America, Art Deco is often associated with the "Good Times." The post World War I era finally brought an end to the Depression and ushered in the age of industrial progress. A sense of renewal gripped the country and was visually evident in drastic changes in style, fashion, entertainment and decoration. The advent of the "Flapper" hairdo, shortened skirts, deep cut blouses, elegant coattails and top hats for men, delicate dresses adorned with beads and feathers, dark red fingernails, more colorful makeup and indulging in social taboos, all gave promise to a new age. From the end of prohibition, the bold infatuation with the mob, the spurge of Jazz, the advent of the Swing Bands, America embraced a bright future that was only just beginning. Art Deco conveyed a sense of rejuvenated beauty in the female form as well as strength in freedom of artistic expression serving as a strong springboard of these times. Its range of characteristics made it extremely versatile and the array of materials utilized in manufacturing was very eclectic at minimum. It is here that the Art Deco figural lamp venue established itself as a main stay amongst the buying public that was riding the coattails of this new age. Visual reminders of the beauty of the female body and the acceptance of nudity resulted in a high demand for art works - and the Art Deco figural lamps were art works in the purest form.

The demise of Art Deco (if there was such a thing) is often attributed to the financial crashes of the late 1920s and early 1930s, along with a international depression of significant magnitude. Couple this with the advent of World War II and its post reconstruction era, which demanded a premium on natural resources, especially metals, left little time or demand for decorative excesses. Production and popularity may have dwindled then, but Art Deco had seen a steady resurgence as evidenced by the availability of both vintage and reproduction Art Deco pieces today.

Vintage Art Deco will always command a respectable audience in collectible vintage lighting, especially figural lamps - for it plays on that sensuous and lasting artistic combination of the female form and aesthetic lighting. Art Deco figural lamps are an artistic medium that has frozen the upheaval of the art deco rebellion and chose to represent the spirit of that age in the semi-nude and nude female form. From the exotic figures, composition of bronze, brass, pewter, silver, washed and plated iron or spelter, the art glass globes, fused lighting, Bakelite plugs, candelabra bulbs, brass switches and alabaster or marble bases, all serve as the aesthetic platform that highlight the sensuous presence of the nudes and semi-nudes. It is the original artist and foundry hands, the castings, the intricate attention to detail and the fusion of collaborative materials and light that produced these art works.

The most widely accepted names in American art deco figural lamps are: Frankart, Ronson, Nuart, J.B. Hirsch, Betty Beck and Chicago. All of these producers made art deco figural lamps capturing the smooth lines of the female form in combination with aesthetic lighting. Each one has strong collector followings for their lamps that featured exotic nudes and heavy Egyptian influences. All of these and many more elements make vintage Art Deco Figural Lamps a highly collectible field that is admired by many and a favorite among collectors worldwide.

Sonny Slate is an Art Deco Dealer who specializes in vintage art deco figural lamps. He is also owner of The Art Deco Lamp Gallery at as well as The Art Deco Lamp Blog at:

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