Posted on December 01, 2016 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments
René Lalique (1860 - 1945) is one of the most celebrated artists from the Art Nouveau period. Lalique was a French glass art designer and is best known for his perfume bottles, vases, jewelry, chandeliers, clocks, automobile hood ornaments, and artistic additions to architecture.
St. Matthew's Church in Jersey. Glass interior work by René Lalique.
His sumptuous style often features nature-inspired elements, including foliage, flowers, and flowing lines. Lalique took inspiration not only from the French countryside but also from nature motifs in Japanese art. In addition to creating period-defining work, Lalique left behind a style that continues to inspire designers and collectors alike.
Broche Libellule (1900)
Lalique grew up in the suburbs of Paris and summered in Ay, whose scenic country views inspired his signature naturalistic style. While apprenticing for goldsmith and jeweler Louis Aucoc in Paris, Lalique took drawing and sketching classes at Collège Turgot. He also studied at Ecole des Arts Décoratifs where he learned to design jewelry and later at the Crystal Palace School of Art Sydenham in London where he studied graphic design and further developed his naturalistic approach. During his time in Britain, Lalique was exposed to and inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement.
After returning from London in 1882, Lalique worked as a freelance artist and designed jewelry for French jewelry firms Cartier and Boucheron, among others. In 1885, Lalique opened his own business where he designed and made jewelry and other glass pieces.
Plaque mounted on gold with baroque pearl (circa 1904-1905)
Lalique’s work was met with mixed reviews. His unique pairings, which included horns and diamonds and carved ivory with enamel and pearls, certainly challenged ideas of what was acceptable in art. Fortunately, Lalique’s glasswork and jewelry were favored by emerging popular voices of the period. In particular, French actress Sara Bernhardt was among his admirers. She wore many of his finest pieces while on stage.
Opal, glass, diamond, and enamel "Rose" plaque (circa 1901)
By 1890, the glass artist was regarded as on of France’s foremost art nouveau jewelry designers. Around this time, Lalique opened a new jewelry store in the fashionable Opera district at 20 Rue Therese in Paris. As his business grew, his experimentation with craft continued. By the mid-nineties, Lalique began producing pieces using the “lost wax method” and pâte-de-verre. He was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1897.
Lalique’s iconic perfume bottles really took off around the turn of the century, and his evolving glass work with bottles further informed his jewelry design. Lalique introduced a new type of glass called demi-crystal. Containing 12% lead, demi-crystal isn’t as bright as regular crystal; it’s softer effect made it ideal for Lalique’s Art Nouveau designs. Around 1909, Lalique developed a method by with the interior glass walls of a bottle could feature a design that could be seen through the smooth exterior of the bottle.
One of Lalique's many beautiful perfume bottles inspired by nature and feminine beauty.
Perfumer Roja Dove suggests that Lalique’s glasswork be viewed by candle light to get the original effect. His work simply can't be fully appreciated in the harsh light of modern electricity.
What inspires you about Lalique's enduring style?