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Isador Kauffman is considered the most important Jewish artist of the 19th Century. Born in Hungary, he studied in Budapest and at Vienna’s imperial Academy of Imperial Arts. Kauffman was devoted to his art, with an especial fascination with his Jewish roots, and in 1894 began taking annual summer trips through Eastern Europe, attracted by regions where Jewish life and Jewish feeling vibrated most strongly.

In its essence, Art Noveau was a reaction to the academic art of the 19th Century. Named for Siegfried Bing's Maison de l'Art Nouveau gallery and shop in Paris, it was inspired by natural forms and structures, particularly the curved lines of plants and flowers. It shaped art, architecture and applied art, and was big till around 1910, when it was gazumped by Art Deco.