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”)



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    

4 Vintage 1950s Lalique French Crystal Glass Chene Oak Leaf Tumbler Glasses NrThree Fine Art Deco Design Lalique Multi Coloured Glass Fish OrnamentsRare Lalique Lelong Art Deco Enamel Chrome Case Glass Skyscraper Perfume BottleBeautiful Rene Lalique French Art Glass 'tambwee' Lion Cub Pair Heavy CrystalFine Lalique Luxembourg Figure 3 Long Hair Cherubs With Garlands 116190Lalique France Crystal Clairefontaine Lily Of The Valley Perfume Scent Bottle NrExceptionally Rare Lalique Cat Crystal Buckle Belt. Never Worn. Dramatic Red.Lot Of 3 Lalique Crystal Fish From France - SignedLalique France Copella Hinged Oval Frosted Crystal Box Crystal Signed Lalique Large Swan Sculpture Bird Statue W/ Head DownLalique Crystal - Igor Caviar Bowl Classic Authentic Original Signed 1970s Lalique French Crystal Saint Marc Art Glass Vase W/frosted Doves (circa 1939)Lalique Frosted Crystal "rosine" Vase W/ Flying Doves-hand Signed-mint-5" Tall Large Signed Lalique Frosted Crystal Crouching Cat Chat Couche 11602 FigurineLalique France Art Deco Rectangular Ashtray W/ Frosted Glass PanelsLalique Frosted Crystal Figurine, Woman & Pan Or Satyr Entwined1927 Signed Rene R Lalique France Frosted Art Glass Oleron VaseRene Lalique Frosted Crystal Sparrow Hood Ornament Mascot Bird Rare Signed Lalique France Ingrid Art Deco Frosted Leaf Crystal Art Glass Floral VaseLalique Figurine Mother Duck Clear 209500Vintage Signed Lalique Nina Ricci Farouche Splash Perfume Parfum BottleRare 1930s Rene Lalique Bourgueil French Crystal Butter Dishes Pats Open SaltsStunning Frosted Lalique France "marguerites" Centerpiece Bowl SignedSigned Lalique Crystal Art Glass Tete D' Aigle Eagle Car Hood Ornament MascotLalique France Crystal Blue Fish Signed Original BoxLalique Blue Crystal Seashell Glass Telline Earrings Mint In BoxOld, Vintage Lalique France Art Glass Vase With Birds And VinesLalique Figurine Nude With Swan Sculpture Signed Lalique 5" MintGrand Marnier Lalique Crystal Grande Cuvee Liquor Decanter No Reserve! $1 Nr Lalique Crystal 6 1/2" Candlestick Mesanges - Retail $1445 Beautiful Lalique Green Crystal Glass Dinosaur Lizard Figure 6 1/4" Long MintLalique Frosted Crystal French Art Glass Rapace Sparrow Bird Of Prey PaperweightR. Lalique Madonna & Child Statue 14.5 Inches HighLalique Crystal Art Glass Bowl Pinson Chaffinch Sparrow Finch Bird 9 1/4" FranceRene' Lalique (1860-1945) Assiette "ormeaux No.1" Circa 1931Lalique Vase - Dampierrel - Frosted And Clear Glass - Signed - Bird MotifSigned Lalique France St Cloud Acanthus Leaf Frosted Art Glass Crystal Vase RdrBeautiful Lalique Crystal Glass Owl Figure 3 1/2" Tall MintA Beautiful Art Deco French Lalique For Coty Glass Lidded Pot Lalique Sitting BearLalique Style Glass BowlLalique Elizabeth Birds Vines Vase Pedestal Bowl Signed Original Box And LabelRare Lalique Crystal Sylphide Firebird Art Glass Paperweight With BoxLalique Glass 'silver Pennies'-1974-plate-in Original BoxPierre D'avesn Art Deco French Amber Art Glass Bowl-lalique/daumLalique Angel Fish Light Blue Signed * New Without Box * 3000200Lalique Gold Satin Glass Duck 2 3/4" France SignedLalique Bird Bowl Bluebirds SparrowsMint Lalique Crystal Deux Hirondelles Swallows Bookends Pristine Best Price!Lalique Frosted Glass Crystal Swan, Art Glass PaperweightVintage Lalique Perfume,scent,atomizer Spray Bottle With Young Maidens FacesLalique Ring Holder, Love Birds, Frosted Glass And Clear, Etched MarkedLalique France Crystal White Frosted Pheasant Glass Paperweight 4 3/4" Very NiceLalique France Frosted Pheasant Bird Fowl Art Glass Figurine Paperweight Signed$370 Lalique Arethuse Crystal Lapis Lazuli Beads Sterling Earring 103806 New BoxLalique Deux Cygnes Frosted Glass Crystal Swans, Art Glass PaperweightSigned Crystal Lalique Figure Of A Woman Kneeling W/ Animal ~ 4 1/2"Frosted And Clear Lalique Art Glass Two Swans Deux Cygnes Signed RingholderCristal Lalique "bluets" Ashtray Circa 1947Lalique Crystal Compiegne Oak Leaf Bowl

Recent News: Lalique Art Glass

Source: Google News

The Next 7: Your guide to this week's entertainment
Elmira Star-Gazette, October 3rd

To Kill a Mockingbird, 8 p.m. Ti-Ahwaga Performing Arts Center, 42 Delphine St., Owego. ... 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...Read more

Sneak Peek: Villa René Lalique Hotel and Restaurant, France
Robb Report, October 1st

Why Go: Every piece of Lalique crystal and glass has been made in the company's Alsace, France, factory since it opened 94 years ago. A year after starting the company, founder René Lalique chose a location ... the project naturally embodies Lalique's...Read more

Faberge pendant, Tiffany lamps, more at Ahlers & Ogletree's Oct. 17-18 estates ...
ArtfixDaily, October 1st

Session I, on Saturday, Oct. 17, is titled Objets d'Art: Period Art Glass & Decorative Arts. It will feature over 500 lots, including period glass and pottery by L.C. Tiffany and the Tiffany Studios, Moser, Kralik, Loetz, Thomas Webb, Mont Joye, Mt...Read more

Work by Paul Evans, George Nakashima, Tommi Parzinger, Greene & Greene ...
ArtfixDaily, September 23rd

The finest collection of Lalique glass we have seen in years featuring many rare pieces and a rainbow of colors, including a Cluny vase, red and butterscotch Poissons, teal and electric blue Perruches, a Caravelle centerpiece, a Normandie table lamp, ...Read more

Vision for a Mighty Tieton comes to fruition
Yakima Herald-Republic, September 19th

It's not eye-catching like the substantial art books propped on an opposite wall, books with titles such as “Rene Lalique: Enchanted by Glass” and “Surf Craft: Design and the Culture of Board Riding.” They're a feast for the eyes. The sketchbook is a...Read more

Lalique Creates Crystal Collection for AIDS Benefit
Home Furnishings News, September 11th

Three of seven pieces from the collection can now be purchased at Lalique boutiques nationwide and select retailers. These pieces include a crystal angel, limited to 999 worldwide, for $1,800; a red crystal heart, limited to 499 worldwide, for $1,800...Read more

Lalique Automotive Art
KTLA, September 1st

Gayle Anderson was live in Oxnard because the Mullin Automotive Museum has released a newest book entitled, LALIQUE AUTOMOTIVE ART. This book celebrates the unique art of French glass master René Lalique. Lalique Automotive Art was written by ...Read more

Mullin Automotive Museum Releases New Book, Lalique Automotive Art
GlobeNewswire (press release), August 25th

Oxnard, Calif., Aug. 25, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Mullin Automotive Museum released its newest book, Lalique Automotive Art, during Monterey Car Week 2015. This book celebrates the unique art of French glass master René Lalique. Lalique ...Read more