Detail from mistletoe-decorated glassware by Daum Frères of Nancy, France

Mistletoe in Art? Probably an odd concept to most people. But with its distinctive shapes and colours (there aren’t many other white-berried plants) the traditional European mistletoe has a long-established place in both seasonal and non-seasonal art.

Examples of seasonal Christmas and New Year art are presented lower down this page.  Christmas mistletoe imagery is common everywhere today, but New Year material is more of a continental Europe tradition.

But the best mistletoe art is from the Art Nouveau period when the characteristic shapes of European Mistletoe inspired many designs

Which mistletoe?

European mistletoe is a very distinctive plant – and not just because it has white berries in mid-winter. It also has very distinctive branching and leaf patterns.

Other ‘Christmas’ mistletoes, though less distinctive in shape, also have some history in art – though only in their case it tends to only be for Christmas. The visual difference between classic European Mistletoe, and the less distinctive American ‘Christmas’ Mistletoe is demonstrated below:

European Mistletoe – distinctively branched and leaved as well as being green and white
American Mistletoe – green and white but conventionally branched

 

European mistletoe
on the left

American mistletoe
on the right

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Art Nouveau Mistletoe designs

Edgar-William Brandt’s Boule de Gui paperweight – which came in several variants, including lamp-bases. 1920-1925

Mistletoe’s distinctive branching pattern, leaf-pairs and berries are perfect for art nouveau design, and from the 1890s through to the 1930s were regularly used in designs from continental Europe.

There was often an association, at least in France, with the tradition of mistletoe as a symbol of luck and peace at New Year, with many items inscribed with the phrase ‘au gui l’an neuf/nouveau’ – gui being the French word for mistletoe.

A few examples of art nouveau design are shown here – without any detailed interpretation, just to demonstrate the range and style of some of the items.

Some posters with illustrations of items from this period, are available for download lower down this page.

Rene Lalique’s Gui bowl c 1921. This bowl was produced in several colour variants. Click to enlarge.
Rene Lalique’s Druide Vase c 1924. This vase was produced in several colour variants.

 

 

Rene Lalique’s Boule de Gui Vase – also made in various colurs and finishes. Click to enlarge.
Lalique’s Chandelier Boule De Gui

 

Detail from a Louis Majorelle designed inlaid table, with mistletoe design and new year slogan
A glass beaker by Daum Frères, based in Nancy, France. Click to enlarge.

 

The china mark from a mistletoe-themed dinner service by Boch Frères Keramik, Belgium. ‘Gui’ is French for mistletoe.
Plates from a dinner service designed by Edmond Lachenal in the 1890s. Made by Luneville exclusively for subscribers to Les Annales Politiques et Littéraires. Click to enlarge.

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Christmas & New Year Mistletoe Art

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Posters to download and postcards to buy

Posters to download

The Mistletoe Matters Consultancy has several posters available to download, including a historic botanical print, a series of art nouveau posters and a poster about mistletoe harvesting in France in the 1920s and 30s. Scroll down to see them all.

Mistletoe Poster to download

Botanical Mistletoe Poster to download:  It’s a large file (about 1.2 MB) and is optimised to print at about 300 by 450 mm. Click the image to download it.

 

Mistletoe Art Nouveau Posters to download: The Mistletoe Matters Consultancy assembled some examples of art nouveau mistletoe for an exhibition in 2005, and some of the resulting posters are available to download here.  Click the links below to download each one – they’re large files between 1 and 4 MB in size and optimised to print at about 300 by 450 mm.

Visit our Mistletoe Art pages for full information about mistletoe imagery in the art nouveau period.

Art Nouveau Poster 1: Rene Lalique
Art Nouveau Poster 2: Daum Freres
Art Nouveau Poster 3: Edmond Lachenal
Art Nouveau Poster 4: Various Silverware
French Mistletoe Harvest for the UK in the 1930s

French Mistletoe Harvest Poster to download with some vintage (1920s and 30s) pictures of the French Mistletoe Harvest and export to the UK.

It can be downloaded here (or click on the image).  Note that it is a large file (about 4 MB) and is optimised to print at about 300 by 450 mm.

Postcards and cards to buy

Mistletoe botanical postcards
Mistletoe Art Nouveau Postcards from the English Mistletoe Shop

The English Mistletoe Shop has a small stock of mistletoe postcards and other cards featuring historic prints of mistletoe and mistletoe Art Nouveau designs.

The postcards are in 2 packs, each with 4 cars. Click here or the links below the images to visit the shop.

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