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    

Lalique Fish Signed Figurine Seal Goujon Cachet In Box Crystal GlassVintage Lalique Dark Glass Bowl W Raised Relief Birds Trees & Berries (as Is) Lalique Seal Fish Lime Green Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #1Lalique - Marguerites Bowl €Lalique Cactus Crystal Lidded Dish Powder Box Fine French Glass France SignedLalique Seal Fish Grey Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #5Magnificent C. 1929 "oursin" Blue Patina Vase Etched R. LaliqueVintage R Lalique France Bottle Decanter PerfumeLalique Crystal Angel Champagne Flute Set Of 2, Signed On Base Of StemLalique Seal Fish Violet Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #10Lalique Seal Fish Clear Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #6Vintage Lalique Butterfly Inkwell2 Lalique Crystal Angel Wings Champagne Flutes - Ange Pattern - NrLalique Frosted Leaf Vase Osumi Signed Fine French Crystal France SignedVintage Lalique Dampierre French Art Glass Clear Bird Floral Flower Vase Lalique Seal Fish Opaque Pink Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #11Lalique France Bacchantes Glass Vase French Crystal No Reserve !!Vintage Lalique Paperweight Sparrow Made In France Signed Original Art GlassLalique Seal Fish Anise Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #2Unusual C.1920 R Lalique Signed Smokey Charcoal Glass Vase "rampillion" PatternLalique Vintage 1960 Chrysis Paperweight Or Car Mascotte Pristine ConditionsLalique Ram Belier Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #14Lalique France Nude Leda And The Swan Figurine Statuette In BoxLalique Seal Fish Golden Red Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #9Lalique Collection Poissons Fish In Original Suede Sheath And Original BoxLalique Seal Fish Pale Blue Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #12Vintage Lalique Deux Fleurs Flowers Crystal Perfume Bottle Signed Frosted GlassLalique France Grenadine Crystal Fish #3002200Lalique Campanule Vase Excellent Condition No ReserveLalique Petite Nue Venus Nude Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #13Lalique Paperweight Signed France Labels Frosted Glass Turtle "caroline" MintLalique Frosted Crystal Glass Small Bird Figurine On Clear Base, Lalique FranceLalique Seal Fish Yellow Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #3Vintage Lalique Frosted Art Glass Horse Figure FranceLalique Frosted Crystal Man And Woman Nude FigurineLalique France Frosted Crystal Diana Artemis Nude Woman With Goat/ FawnAuthentic Lalique Large Crouching Cat - Fabulous Condition Free Shipping!Beautiful Lalique Crystal Orange Cameleon/lizard , Mint ConditionRetired Lalique Jamaique Signed Votive, Matchstick, Candle, Or Cigarette Holder Lalique Collection Poissons Fish In Original Suede Sheath And Original BoxVintage Lalique Paperweight Two Love Birds "duex Colombes" Signed France FrostedAuthentic Lalique Large Sitting Cat "chat Assis" Fabulous Condition And Detail!Stunning Signed Lalique Frosted Glass Sparrow Feeding,size 13cm/9.5cm/6cmLalique Seal Fish Orange Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #8 Vintage Lalique Art Glass Frosted Ducks Powder / Trinket Jar Signed N/r 49.95Lalique Seal Fish Harrakech Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #7Lalique "eygne Tete Baissee" Swan Head Up 11616Lalique Volubilis Opalescent Glass BowlLalique France Crystal Fish Opaque Blue GreenLalique Collection Poissons Fish In Original Suede Sheath And Original BoxLalique Vintage Nina Ricci L'aire Du Temps Perfume Bottle Mint!Lalique Bagatelle Bird VaseA Flock Of 3 Signed Lalique France Art Glass Enamel Butterfly Figurines #30106Lalique BirdsLalique Seal Fish Red Art Glass French W/ Original Box Auction #4Cute Vintage Lalique Art Glass Nude Nymph Pin Dish Signed N/r 49.95Lalique Frosted Pale Purple Amethyst-gray Agate Hues Crystal Fish Figurine Nwot Lalique Frosted Crystal Paper Weight Nude W/ Long Hair Signed Art Deco FranceLalique France #3000200 Crystal Fish Pale Blue Lalique Clairefontaine Perfume Bottle Frosted Stopper Signed Lilly Of Valley

Recent News: Lalique Art Glass

Source: Google News

All Aboard the Orient Express: Looking Back at the Golden Age of Train Travel
Daily Beast, April 15th

There's a newly restored sleeping car, a salon car with deluxe Lalique inlays, and a bar/restaurant car. It's easy to understand why they are classified as historical monuments, with their kitted out furnishings and Art Deco flourishes. Visitors enter...Read more

Waldorf Astoria Reveals Beverly Hills Plans
Meetings Focus, April 14th

Richly upholstered furniture, custom Strass crystal chandeliers, lacquered sycamore millwork, Lalique installations as well as a significant curated art program throughout hotel, represent the apex of master craftsmanship and luxury that is paramount...Read more

It's Taxing
New York Times (blog), April 12th

In nontheme news, I like ART GLASS (mainly because I'm in love with Lalique), HELLIONS, SAFE AREA and ON HIGH. ILLY is, to my mind, more of a coffee brand than a word meant to mean “In a bad way,” but O.K.. Clue of the Day for me was “Hangovers at ...Read more

Artists Gutierrez, Schneider share April show
Deming Headlight, April 10th

Elena Ruiz — Headlight Photo Hand artist Cynthia Gutierrez, a former student of Deming High Art Teacher Jesse Kriegel, is sharing the Deming Art Center with glass artist Patricia Schneider in a two-woman show for the month of April. A reception will...Read more

Something Old: The changing tastes of collectors
Foster's Daily Democrat, April 10th

Many auction galleries are holding special auctions that feature furniture, glass, pottery, jewelry and even toys made after 1950. A unique table made by Judy Kensley McKie (b. 1944) sold at a 2012 Rago auction for $23,750. The artist started making...Read more

Antiques Roadshow expert Eric Knowles puts spotlight on René Lalique for ...
Sutton Coldfield Observer, April 5th

The expert will be telling members of the group how Lalique's innovative work and use of unconventional materials – principally glass – combined with his beautiful and elegant designs, made him the leading jewellery designer of the Art Nouveau period ...Read more

Crystal is a glass act
Telegraph.co.uk, April 4th

Paying homage to the kings, queens and castles that have made up its history during the past 250 years, the Japanese design studio Nendo's Harcourt chess game is a captivating example of art and craftsmanship. ... The partnership between the master...Read more

Metropolitan Fine Arts, 10 W. 57th Street, NYC, Announces Two Rare Rene ...
PR Web (press release), March 29th

Metropolitan Fine Arts & Antiques, W. 57th Street, has announced several new additions to their collection, including two extraordinarily rare Rene Lalique Perruches Vases. The vases, made by the famed French glass designer, are available for purchase ...Read more