Even though he is known today for his antique art glass, René Lalique (1860-1945) began his career in 1881 as a freelance jeweler. Lalique’s fascination with three-dimensional decorative objects informed his Art Nouveau vases, perfume bottles, bowls, and decanters, which were typically pressed into molds to create patterns and reliefs of animals, foliage, or both. Later in his career, Lalique also designed stemware, tableware, clocks, and lamps.

Lalique’s contribution to the field of art glass began roughly in 1902, when he established a small glassworks at Clairfontaine outside of Paris. There he made molded glass plaques and decorative panels. He brought a jeweler’s precise eye to his first pieces, which were created using a jewelry casting process called cire perdue, or lost wax.

In cire perdue, a design would be carved by hand into wax, pressed into clay to create a mold, and then melted out (or lost) so that molten glass could be poured in. It was a primitive process, but Lalique made good use of it through the 1920s.

One of Lalique’s earliest clients was François Coty, who commissioned Lalique to design perfume bottles for him. Lalique would eventually design some 16 bottles for Coty, along with a number of other objects and the windows for Coty’s headquarters in New York at 712 Fifth Avenue (you can still see them today). The workload was so great that in 1909, Lalique rented a larger glassworks at Combs-la-Ville east of Paris. In 1910 he purchased that facility outright.

Combs-la-Ville had long attracted glassblowers, thanks to the area’s plentiful supplies of silica-rich sand. Lalique liked the look of the glass it created, and he chose not to add lead to his batches, even though it meant that his products would not be officially labeled as lead crystal. Lalique preferred his demi-crystal because it was inexpensive and easy to work with. Above all, he liked the milky opalescence of the final product.

Lalique collaborated with Coty through the 1930s. During this time, he also designed perfume bottles for other perfume makers, including d’Orsay and Roger et Gallet, for whom Lalique made a bottle crowned by one of his famous tiara stoppers (one of Lalique’s most copied designs). Later, as Lalique’s name became as synonymous with perfume bottles as Coty’s, he would make empty perfume bottles of his own, the Tantot and Amphitrite being but two examples.

World War I halted production at Combs-la-Ville from 1915 to 1919. And then, in the 1920s, Lalique really hit his stride. It was during this period that he produced a number of one-of-a-kind and limited run vases and sculptural objects. Some bore reliefs of pairs of parakeets and lovebirds, a motif he would use throughout his career. Others featured intricate and slightly fearsome wasps...

The Courges vases from this period are unusual if only because they are relatively rare examples that are saturated with color. Even though the vast majority of Lalique’s work from this period was pearly and opalescent, some of these gourds had metal oxides mixed into the glass to turn them blue (cobalt), red (chromium), or yellow (uranium).

By 1921, Lalique had opened a high-volume factory at Wingen-sur-Moder, in Alsace. The goal was to increase production and make Lalique’s work more affordable to the masses. In the 1920s, Lalique designed some 200 vases for production at Wingen. Here press-molding techniques were perfected. Most of the vases had wide necks so that the plunger used to force molten glass into the mold could be easily removed. The result was an exterior with crisp, sharp lines and an interior that was perfectly smooth.

Vases from this period include the ovoid Ronces, which appear to have been woven from a tangle of thorny vines. Some of the Ronces were translucent; others were amber, blue, or red, the latter being a difficult color to work with. Later, the Ronce design was repurposed as a base for a table lamp. Other vases were adorned with fang-bearing snakes or gazelles sitting beneath a canopy of stars. The molded surface of the decorative Languedoc vase was a tight pattern of what look like stylized coleus leaves.

The 1920s were also a decade for figurative vases and vessels. Most depicted women—Naïades consists of a frieze of mermaids holding aloft a shallow bowl—but some such as the Archers and Palèstre vases featured male forms. Lalique’s famous statuettes also leaned heavily to female nudes, as did his illuminated plaques, with Suzanne (a nude with outstretched arms holding a curtain of glass behind her) being perhaps his most famous.

From around 1925 to 1930, Lalique produced about 20 so-called car mascots, which were designed to replace the hood ornaments on luxury automobiles. Today, these heads of horses, peacocks, and roosters are among the most prized antique Laliques available, if you can even find one. Other examples include a goldfish, a wild boar, and a frog.

Lalique accepted a number of other high-profile architectural commissions during the 1920s, including the dining cars on the Orient Express, the Oviatt Building in Los Angeles, the Peace Hotel in Shanghai. As the 1930s arrived, Lalique’s work embraced Art Deco. Now the molding technologies Lalique had been refining seemed especially at home, particularly in a 1935 piece like Souston, an artichoke-shaped vase whose ridges and lines feel downright architectural.

Tableware and glassware also made an appearance in the 1930s. There were glasses and goblets, tumblers with a matching jug, and lots of carafes, each with its own handsome stopper. Plates and bowls sported swirling patterns suggesting sea urchins, anemones, and sand dollars.

Other pieces from the Depression years include lidded boxes of all sorts (both square and round), ashtrays, and clocks, including one timepiece housed within a panel of opalescent glass that has been molded with reliefs of Lalique’s beloved birds.

But this was the Depression, so in 1937 the glassworks at Combs-la-Ville closed. World War II shuttered a second Lalique factory, this time from 1940 to 1945, but Lalique himself stuck around until the Germans surrendered to Allied Forces on May 9, 1945. Two days later, one of the 20th century’s most influential designers would pass away, but his work ensures that he will never be forgotten.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Loetz.com

Loetz.com

This fabulous site is a guide to Bohemian art glass makers from 1885 to 1920. Loetz was the premier Bohemian glass … [read review or visit site]

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Chris and Val Stewart’s impressive attempt to create a complete catalogue of all known cloud glass, a decorative … [read review or visit site]

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

The heart of this website, home of the Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club, is the Identification Project, whe… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rene Lalique Coquilles Shell Pattern Opalescent Glass Bowl Signed No.5 13cm 3204Estate Lot Lalique France Figural Maidens Vase Sparrow Paperweight 2 Ring TraysVintage Lalique Honfleur DishR Lalique Art Deco Period Paquarettes Dish/tray Blue StainedBeautiful Lalique "bagatelle" Crystal Vase Frosted Birds High ReliefVintage Small Lalique BirdVintage Lalique Crystal Deux Fleurs Perfume Bottle - No Reserve FlowerVintage R Lalique Pair Lovebirds Dish A Beautiful Rene Lalique Clear Frosted Asters Shallow Bowl Plate Circa 1935Vintage *lalique* Opalescent Figural Art Glass Snail.......no Reserve!Beautiful 9 3/8" Tall Signed French Lalique Art Glass Nude Female DancerVintage *lalique* Amethyst Figural Art Glass Butterfly.......no Reserve!Vintage *lalique* Figural Green Art Glass Frog.......no Reserve!Vintage Signed Lalique French Art Glass Vase......no ReserveMiraculous C. 1920 Opalescent And Patinated Lalique Art Glass "druide" VaseSigned Lalique Frosted Clear Crystal 6” Elephant Figurine Nice!Lovely Colorful Signed French Lalique Art Glass Fish Motif Statue Figurine 3 PcsLalique Society Of America 1992 Ice Skater Crystal Paperweight In Original BoxLalique France Frosted Art Glass Sparrow Bird W/ Head DownVintage *lalique* Figural Clear Art Glass Frog.......no Reserve!R Lalique Gui Covered Box / Powder Jar Rare Clear Frosted 4" Signed GlassPerfect Gift! New In Box Lalique Red Crystal Thistle Christmas Ornament #6103810Vintage Lalique Crystal Samoa Perfume Bottle - No Reserve TwistVintage *lalique* Figural Green Art Glass Frog.......no Reserve!Vintage Signed Lalique Art Glass Perfume Bottle.....no Reserve!Authntic Signed Lalique Lion Head Candy Style Dish/bowl/ashtrayLalique Frosted Cristal Figurine Dack Handmade In FranceAuthentic Lalique Crystal Art Glass Cat Brooch BeautifulSigned Lalique France Art Glass Crystal Rooster Car Mascot 8.25" TallLalique French Art Glass Frosted Bowl Engraved Script SignatureSigned Lalique France Rare Green Art Glass Crystal Fish Poisson Perch 6.25" Blue Lalique Closed Wing Butterfly - SignedLalique Crystal Blossom VaseLalique France €Signed Lalique France Art Glass Crystal Frosted Sitting Cat 8.25" TallRene Lalique Art Deco Saumur Water Glass Signed R Lalique On Base Circa 1930Lalique France Pink Frosted Flower PeperweightLalique Anemone Flowers Perfume BottleVintage Lalique Femmes Antiques Tumbler France Frosted Glass CupLalique France Fish Ring DishVintage Lalique Miniature Paperweight With Chinese Dragon DesignLalique Crystal "luxembourg" Cherub Figurines ~~ Rare! ~~ A Set Of 2Lalique Crystal Plaque Nude Woman W/swirling Hair France Signed Lalique Tm €Lalique Swan Pintray Ring BowlLalique Crystal Vintage Retail Display Plaque Advertising Lalique Hibou 5 Owls Vase Retired Crystal Frosted Clear SignedSigned Lalique France Art Glass Crystal Faun Doe Deer Paperweight 3.25"Lalique 2014 Annual Clear Holly Ornament 10413200Vintage Lalique Glass Perfume Bottle "deux Flerus" Signed Excellent Cond No ResVintage Pre Wwii Lalique Crystal Vase W Six Birds Satin/clear Glass France NrSigned Lalique France Art Glass Crystal Compote Dish With Four Birds 5.5" WideEarly Lalique France Crystal Blown Glass Vase Clear Hobnail Signed Mossi VintageSigned Lalique France + Label Art Glass Crystal Manta Sting Ray 4.5" WideLalique Tete De Lion Smoking SetLalique Tm €Lalique Tm €Lalique French Crystal Twin Kissing Turtle Doves Letter Seal Stamp Signed 10605Signed Lalique France Art Glass Crystal Owl Chouette 2.5" TallGorgeous French Lalique Green Glass Pendant

Recent News: Lalique Art Glass

Source: Google News

The Next 7: Your guide to this week's entertainment
Elmira Star-Gazette, December 20th

Several René Lalique featured exhibits, live glass blowing, make your own glass, Little Gather Storytelling, and hands-on activities; Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. 1 Museum Way, Corning. 937-5371, cmog.org. Rockwell Museum of Western Art: Take a guided...Read more

Ceramicist Axel Salto Blended Form and Function
BLOUIN ARTINFO, December 20th

The Danish ceramic artist Axel Salto (1889–1961) has a unique ability to mine the primitive nature of the material, working it into polished, sensual forms that reflect both ancient Asian traditions and modern investigations of the natural world...Read more

My Foundations: Anouska Hempel
Telegraph.co.uk, December 17th

Former Bond girl, interior designer, hotelier and self-confessed diva Anouska Hempel, aka Lady Weinberg, created London's first boutique hotel Blake's in 1978. She followed this decadent den of exoticism with the minimal white-on-white Hempel Hotel...Read more

20th Century Design in the Spotlight at Kaminski Auctions' Jan. 4 Sale
ArtfixDaily, December 16th

Various art glass pieces from makers such as Kosta Boda, Lalique and Alfredo Barbini for Murano round out the top lots. With over three hundred lots in the sale, there is something to pique the diverse interest of each and every Twentieth Century...Read more

Our Guide to the New Era of Miami Shopping
Ocean Drive Magazine, December 1st

It seems Capitman, from her plush Art Deco armchair in the heavens, is having the last laugh. The metropolitan area's well-documented arrival ... Gohard gold leaf vase. Featuring 22.5k gold leaves applied by hand at the prestigious Ateliers Gohard, the...Read more

Art of Jewelry: A Lalique Renaissance
BLOUIN ARTINFO, December 1st

René Lalique may be better known today as the man who revolutionized the perfume industry with Rene Coty at the start of the 20th century, designing beautiful glass bottles that made packaging an important marketing tool. He might also be remembered as ...Read more

A modern annex for an old favorite
The Japan Times, November 28th

The palace building is famous for its ceremonial glass relief doors, with their angel motif, designed by the great glass artist Rene Lalique. These doors are almost never used, but can be appreciated by visitors as they enter. The annex also has a...Read more

Corning Glass Opens New Lalique Exhibit
ithaca.com, May 28th

Born in 1860, Lalique spent a significant part of his childhood on his grandfather's farm in Ay, in northeastern France, sketching the natural world around him. He began studying art when he was 12. His carefree youth ended abruptly with the death of...Read more