Lalique's Romance with Glass
LiveAuctionTalk.com: by Rosemary McKittrick
Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries.
Rene Lalique’s workshop was always full of flowers. They inspired him.
Lalique possessed a relationship with glass like few other 19th century glassmakers. He started out as a jewelry designer and turned to glassmaking late in mid-life. In fact he was one of Frances’s major jewelry designers by the age of 30.
And you can see the jeweler’s eye in his handiwork, in his sculpted female nudes and streamlined vases. He avoided using the large, showy rubies and diamonds that were popular in jewelry design of the era and shocked the world with a piece of jewelry decorated with an entirely nude female form.
After people calmed down nudes became commonplace. He also made faces and hair an ornamental facet of his intricate work.
All the elegant ladies and actresses of the day wanted to wear Lalique’s jewelry.
A true draughtsman, Lalique didn’t miss much and possessed a particular devotion to nature in his design and a commitment to express that devotion in glass.
So it was no surprise his first glass factory was located in the country. Lalique was one of the grandfathers of the Art Nouveau movement, a new art form heralding the magnificence of nature.
He managed to capture the withering of a leaf, the subtle curve of a mermaid and the busyness of grass in his creations.
“Everywhere the eye meets flying, creeping, or contending insects: the thick plated beetle, the slender dragonfly with long transparent and rainbow colored wings, the fluffy bee quivering with activity, the radiant butterfly,” said author Gustave Geoffroy.
If Rene Lalique’s art glass had been music it would have sounded soft and passionate. His earliest pieces were hand-done using a metalworking technique rarely seen in glassmaking, a lost-wax process.
Some collectors say the modern crystal produced now lacks softness. It’s the pieces made before World War II under his personal care they crave.
By the 1920s Lalique’s designs became more geometric and he emerged as a leader in the Art Deco movement. He was also fascinated with mass production and the possibility of creating art glass on the assembly-line with reusable molds which he did.
Rene marked almost all of his pieces “R. Lalique.” But signatures in and of themselves do not authentic pieces. In reality it’s the other way around. Pieces authentic the signatures they show.
In the past two decades the Lalique Company has had three different owners. The current owner is Art & Fragrance, a Swiss company headed by the perfume magnate Silvio Denz. Their goal is to make Lalique one of the most daring luxury brands available.
Lalique crystal objects are developed entirely in-house and manufactured at the factory in Wingen-sur-Moder, France. The company currently focuses on perfumes, cosmetics, crystal glass, jewelry, high-end furniture, living accessories and art.
On Dec. 6, New Orleans Auction Galleries featured a selection of Lalique items in its auction.
Here are some current values.
Crystal Cats; 2; France, one crouching the other seated; signed Lalique France in etched script; 3 ¼ inches high and 8 ¼ inches high; $799.
Crystal Lion’s Head Vase; molded lion’s head on the base; signed Lalique France in etched script; 6 ½ inches high; $799.
Crystal Ispahan Vase; decorated with molded roses; signed Lalique France in etched script; 9 ¼ inches high; $799.
Crystal Cockatoo; molded; signed Lalique France in etched script; 12 inches high; $1,045.
Crystal Poseidon Vase; Turquoise Opalescent Glass; signed Lalique France 79/99 under the base, retains original box and foam liner; 11 ¾ inches high; $7,995.
Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller. For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column. Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a motherlode of information about art, antiques and collectibles. Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.