Friday, July 5, 2013


Rene Lalique was a truly gifted artist, one or the very few whose versatility and ability allowed him to succeed in a variety of fields.  As a master  jeweller he designed some of the most magnificent original pieces ever to be seen.  Later on he shared his talents as an inspiring glass-maker, interior decorator, and exhibition designer.  His works embraced the art nouveau and art deco styles and were acquired by the rich and famous as well as the lesser known in society.

Lalique was born April 6, 1860, in Ay, France, spending most of his childhood in Paris.  In his early teens he showed artistic abilities in the form of paintings of flowers and insects on ivory plaques.  At age 16 he apprenticed with Paris jeweller Louis Aucoc.  Soon after he enrolled in the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs and subsequently studied at Sydenham College in London.

He aspired to become a leading jewellery designer, basing his work on traditional designs and materials.  Lalique began selling his work to noted jewellery houses such as Aucoc, Boucheron, Cartier, and Destape.  His diamond-set pieces were extremely popular with the aristocracy.

Lalique's jewellery was beautiful and of unusual quality, which contrasted with his use of  less expensive metals, glass and semi-precious stones, rivaling pieces made of gold, silver, and precious gems.

By 1890 he was managing a small factory and began experimenting with different materials.  Two years later, famed actress Sarah Bernhardt took note of his work and became one of his most ardent patrons.  This relationship proved to be a valuable commercial asset and garnered him an international reputation.

1905 saw the opening of Lalique's first retail endeavor in Paris, at 24 Place Vendome, enjoying the patronage of royals such as Queen Alexandra.

The immense success of his jewellery allowed him to focus on new things.  He began working more intently with glass. In 1909 he opened his own glass works called Verrerie de Combs la Ville, turning out a large variety of glass articles.  At one point he was designing and manufacturing bottles for perfumer Francois Coty.

Rene Lalique died May 9, 1945 at age 85.  The Lalique tradition was carried on by his son Marc, who introduced a new crystal glass with a brighter, more translucent look.  Marc was joined by his daughter, Marie Claude in 1956.  She continued the tradition of designing and manufacturing fine decorative glass, taking over the company after her father's passing in 1977.  The company maintains  it's fine reputation and continues to be one of the worlds leading glass manufacturers.

Pictured above left is Autumn, a pendant circa 1898 - 1900, 3.75 inches, female face is wreathed in gold plate leaves with enamelled branches and berries.

Pictured above right is Sauterelles,  (grasshoppers)  vase from the 1920's, 10 inches, made in a variety of colors and in both clear and frosted glass.

A wonderful history and pictoral journey into Lalique can be found in the book titled "Lalique"  by Tony L Mortimer.

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