Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Restricted Access (SIA Only)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Fine and Decorative Art and Design

First Advisor

Devon Zimmerman

Second Advisor

Agnes Berecz


This report examines the nationalistic roots and implications of French Art Nouveau. While the term Art Nouveau is often associated with an international style or design movement around the turn of the twentieth century, this paper will focus specifically on the rise of the Art Nouveau style within the socio-political context of the French Third Republic. Following the turbulent start to the Third Republic in 1870-71, France embarked on a period of reactionary nationalism which sought to bolster the national identity and proclaim the legitimacy of the third republican government. As a result, political and cultural leaders of the Third Republic sought to establish a decorative program which would reinforce nationalistic sentiments through the promotion of the French craft tradition. This report will argue that French Art Nouveau was a propagandistic decorative style which sought to re-affirm traditional hierarchical and patriarchal structures. The author will demonstrate this argument through an analysis of national identity and the place of both foreign designers and women within the French Art Nouveau style.