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    

Selling This Rene Lalique Opalescent Avallon Vase With Birds Marcilhac 986Signed Lalique France Crystal Frosted Glass Perfume Bottle EstateVintage Mid 20c Cristal Lalique France Signed Art Glass Bacchantes Large VaseSelling This Rene Lalique Opalescent Bulbes Shallow Bowl Circa 1935model 10-3037V.fine Authentic Signed Lalique France Glass Crystal Dahlia Perfume Scent BottleWonderful Lalique Brown Bear In Excellent ConditionR Lalique Opalescent Glass BowlArt Deco 1930's Lalique France "deux Fleurs" Perfume Bottle - S.f.estateLalique Dark Teal Blue Chameleon Lizard Gecko Crystal FigurineLalique Light Blue Chameleon Lizard Gecko Crystal FigurineLalique France Crystal Glass Light Gray ButterflyLalique French Art Glass Icy Blue Dragonfly FigurineLalique France Clear / Frosted Crystal Elephant Sculpture - Signed - 6"Lalique Frosted Crystal Nude Head Resting Nu Sage Yoga FigurineLalique Frosted Crystal Nude Reclining Nu Feuille Yoga FigurineLalique French Crystal Liberty Eagle "liberte" Figurine Statue 9 " TallLalique France Pimlico Jay Bird Figure Black HeadVintage Mid 20c Cristal R. Lalique France Art Glass Chrysis Car Hood OrnamentLalique Frosted Chameleon Lizard Gecko Crystal FigurineLalique Glass Bird With 1930s Marks To Base - Art DecoVintage Lalique France Frosted Crystal Bird Sparrow Perched Figurine WeightRene Lalique Coty Muguet Perfume Bottle C 1910 Excellent Condition..Lalique Perfum Bottle Flacon "les Elfes" Elegant Lady 40ml 2002 Collection Lalique Perfum Bottle Flacon "papillion" 60ml Mint! 2003 Collection Vintage Lalique French Crystal Lions Head Tete De Lion Cigarette Holder (#866)Lalique France Paris Frosted Crystal Elizabeth Sparrow Birds Pedestal Vase NiceBeautiful Lalique Chameleon Green In Excellent ConditionLalique France Crystal Frosted Bird Signed - Beautiful Piece - No ReserveRene Lalique France Glass Art Large 10.5" Grape Leaves Motif Perfume BottleLalique Amber Orange Chameleon Lizard Gecko Crystal FigurineLalique Colored Fish Figurines Lalique Heavy French France Crystal Owl Figurine Amazing DefinitionLalique France Crystal Pinsons Bird Sparrow Centerpiece BowlOriginal Rene Lalique Chose Promise Fioret Pendant Art Glass MedallionRene Lalique Glass Bird In Great ConditionRene Lalique Glass Bird In Great ConditionNina Ricci Lalique Crystal L'air Du Temps Green Doves Perfume In BoxLalique Crystal Dolphin FigurineArt Deco Glass Lalique Art Nouveau Bear On Ice Mountain SculptureGorgeous Original Lalique France Langeais Ribbed Crystal Decanter With StopperStunning Mint Lalique Signed Soudan Design Square Dish Or Ashtray W/sticker - NrVintage Lalique French Crystal Lions Head Tete De Lion Cigarette Lighter (#865) Lalique France Champs-elysees Frosted Oak Leaf Bowl Signed Crystal Magnificent C. 1920 Signed R. Lalique "ormeaux" Vase Lalique French Art Glass Amber Turtle €Lalique France Crystal Frosted Glass Dove In Wreath FigurineLalique Frosted Bird (sparrow) Posed With Head UpVintage Mid 20c Lalique France Art Glass Deux Danseuses 2 Dancing Nudes FigurineLalique Satin & Clear Glass Compote Bowl 4 Birds On Base Signed Vintage1920's Signed Rene Lalique Chien Seated Dog Smokey Crystal Ashtray Ring DishLalique Sea Foam Green Alligator Centerpiece Bowl -- Seldom SeenVintage Signed Lalique France "saint-marc" Dove/bird Layered 6 3/4" Crystal VaseMiraculous C. 1930 R. Lalique Opalescent "algues" BowlLalique "enfant" Beautiful Crystal Brooch / PinVintage Lalique France Frosted Crystal Bird Sparrow Cleansing Figurine Paperweig Lalique Crystal Wine Glasses Toasting Flutes Set Of 6 Rare Signed Glass FranceLalique Art Glass Charger Tray Heavy Gauge Glass Signed Lalique Crystal Wine Glasses Water Glass Set Of 4 Rare Stemmed France SignedLalique France - Frosted Clear Crystal Owl - Collectible FigurineLalique Crystal, Phenix, Perfume Factice. 7" Tall

Recent News: Lalique Art Glass

Source: Google News

Mid-century modern in Birmingham showcases works from travels
The Detroit News, August 21st

Nearby, a two-tier glass and steel table rests beneath a painting by renowned Mexican artist Ruffin Tamayo that was bought on a trip to Mexico City. One tier of the table holds Gorosh's collection of Lalique crystal that she has collected for more than...Read more

Rago to Auction 2400+ Lots of Estate and Unreserved Property on September ...
ArtfixDaily (blog), August 20th

The sale begins on Friday, September 12 with 550+ lots of unreserved jewelry, silver, decorative and fine art and furnishings, followed by the first section of Rago's Great Estates auction featuring 160+ lots of silver, coins and currency. .... The...Read more

Sense and Sensuality: Art Nouveau, Sainsbury Centre, Norwich, review ...
Telegraph.co.uk, August 19th

Everything they owned - from magnificent gem set brooches in the form of butterflies and dragonflies by Lalique to vessels of iridescent glass overlaid in silver with swirling patterns of stylised tendrils, flowers and leaves - was of a quality that...Read more

The Next 7: Your guide to this week's entertainment
Elmira Star-Gazette, August 16th

Corning Museum of Glass: Kids and Teens Free. Several René Lalique featured exhibits, live glass blowing, make your own glass, Little Gather Storytelling, and hands-on activities for summer youth tours.; Open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. 1 Museum Way, Corning...Read more

Lalique Jewelry Highlights Doyle's October Sale
Artinfo UK, August 14th

Lalique is probably known more for its crystal home wares, but the company's founder, Rene Lalique, actually started as a jeweler designer. Having first studied botany and art, he studied jewelry design in London and Paris, before opening his own...Read more

The Luxurious Orient Express Train Rolls Into Paris In A One-Of-A-Kind Exhibition
Forbes, August 13th

Celebrated French master jeweler and glassmaker René Lalique was called upon to decorate the walls of its dining cars with glass panels inlaid with Cuban mahogany, making the Orient Express a symbol of Art Nouveau style, while the walls of the Côte ...Read more

47th Annual Labor Day Auction
Maine Antique Digest, August 12th

Royal Dux center piece, woman and 2 children supporting a shell, along with another; Lalique and Steuben; good Tiffany Favrille vase; other art glass; pr. of cut overlay mantel lusters; Minton Aesthetic dinner plates; other fine china and porcelains...Read more

Nature gets a glam makeover
Pueblo Chieftain, July 31st

McCall transfers some of the photograms onto glass plates, fusing the layers with a glaze of crushed glass that results in a finished plate similar to milk glass. ... With a background in graphic design and fine art, Quebec-born Ysabel LeMay composes...Read more