French art glass is often associated with Art Nouveau, thanks to the work of Emile Gallé, Daum Frères, and René Lalique. Gallé was considered the medium’s king, establishing the town of Nancy as a center for art glass. After his passing in 1904, Daum Frères became the preeminent name.

Daum Verrerie de Nancy, as it was known, began as a manufacturer of pocket watch crystals and household glassware. But founder Jean Daum’s sons, Antonin and Auguste, had other ideas, which led to their firm’s introduction of etched Art Nouveau cameo glass at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Daum used acid to etch its pieces, as well as to selectively alter some of their underlying colors. Acid could also be used to frost surfaces or make them shiny. Meanwhile, wheel-turning techniques were used to give the surfaces of some Daum pieces a hammered look, which, of course, would be an impossibility in glass.

In the early 1900s, Daum introduced frosted Vitrified pieces as well as polished Jade objects. During World War I, the company suspended its production of art glass, turning its attention instead to medical glass needed for the war effort. One of Auguste’s sons, Jean, who was active in the operations of the company, was killed in the Battle of Verdun.

Between the wars, Daum shifted its aesthetic from Art Nouveau to Art Deco, and its business practices from hand-crafting to mass-production. Pâte-de-verre—in which crushed glass was placed in a mold, heated until it had fused, and then finished using some of the same cameo-glass techniques—was also widely used. In general, Daum vases from the 1920s and ’30s were squatter and more rounded than the tall and slender shapes of the early 1900s.

After World War II, the company shifted gears once more, this time focusing its artistic energies on clear, brilliant, lead crystal, which was hot-worked into figures or blown as vessels. These pieces were not entirely new, though, having descended from the Daum Christalerie de Nancy work of the 1920s. Similarly, pâte-de-verre was reintroduced in the 1970s as Pâte-de-Verre Nouveau.

As for René Lalique, even though he is known today for his antique art glass, Lalique 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.

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.

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.

By 1921, Lalique had opened a high-volume factory at Wingen-sur-Moder, in Alsace. The goal was to 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.

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.

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 Baccarat "nancy" Pattern 6 1/8" Water Goblet Glasses StemwareOriginal Art Nouveau Acid Etched And Enamel Daum Nancy Vase Rene Lalique 1926: Blue "cigognes" Vase. Signed R Lalique. 7.2". Internal Break.Stunning Lalique Art Glass Signed French Heavy Molded Leaf Centerpiece Bowl Atq Lucien Gaillard Les Sylvies Paris France Dragonfly Glass Perfume Bottle Box8 French Saint-louis Crystal Florence Pineapple Cut Crystal Water Goblet StemsGlamorous Art Deco / Bohemian Bacchantes Glass Large VasePair Vintage Art Deco Sabino Opalescent Art Glass Doves, Roucoulant & PalombesRene Lalique 1942: Large "coupe" (bowl) "marly" . Signed R Lalique. 12". 2 ChipsBaccarat Vega Flutissimo Clear Flute 2100089 - Two - Brand New In Giftbox $350French Crystal Baccarat Falcon #1764568 Excellent Condition With Original BoxFine Vintage Lalique Frosted French Crystal Birds Dampierre Vase Mint FranceLovely French Lalique Elizabeth Footed Vase Bowl Birds SparrowSt Louis Gilt Glass Etched Rhine Wine Glasses Beethoven PatternLalique Crystal "danseuse" Nude Dancer Figurine Vintage GlassDaum France Hcm Pate De Verre Fruit  lost Arrow Of William Tell AppleLalique Crystal Nogent Four Bird Pedistal Bowl Excellent Beautiful 3-3/8 X 5-1/2Lalique :dragon In Red Satin Finished Crystal In Original Packaging. Antique 1900 Emile Galle Cameo Glass Cabinet Vase - Hydrangea - Fully Authentic!Fine Vtg Lalique Frosted French Crystal Nogent Sparrows Compote Bowl Dish FranceExquisite Baccarat Crystal "harmonie" 49 Oz Pitcher #1343300 List Price $1130.001900 Emile Galle Cameo Glass Fire-polished Cabinet Vase - Ferns - Authentic!Exquisite Baccarat Crystal "perfection" Square Decanter #1702350 List Price $610Daum French Cameo Glass Grand Marnier Bottle - Art Nouveau New Rare Lalique France Falcon Psyche Royal Blue Perfume Bottle Blue Signed BoxAntique 1900 Emile Galle Cameo Glass Cabinet Vase - Autumn - Fully Authentic!Early French Rene Lalique Crystal Raisins Vase Blue Patina Circa 1928 Signed1931 R.lalique Green Glass Ashtray " Irene" W Frosted Bird Designs 3 5/8" SignedRare Lalique L'air Du Temps By Nina Ricci Double Dove 12 1/2" Display StopperAntique 1900 Emile Galle Cameo Glass Cabinet Vase - Cherry Red - Authentic!Lalique Genuine Mermaid Theano BoxedA 1900 Emile Galle Cameo Glass Fire-polished Cabinet Vase - Ferns - Authentic!Huge R Lalique France Crystal Tray PlatterLalique Crystal Signed Pinsons Finches Birds Large 9 1/4 " Salad Or Serving BowlMont Joye Art Glass Hand Painted Enamel And Gilt Vase Chipped Ice TextureLead Crystal Dancing Nude “naiade” Signed LaliqueLalique Nogent Crystal Bird BowlVintage Lalique French Crystal Coq Nain Rooster Sculpture Mint ConditionPair Signed Lalique France Art Glass Tete De Lion Candle Vases Urns 3 3/4"Mib Lalique​ France Clairefontaine Lily Of The Valley Art Crystal Perfume BottleRare *vintage* Baccarat Harcourt (1841-) Set Of 6 Bread And Butter Plates 6 3/8"Plum Colored Vase Unmarked Lalique StyleBaccarat Paperweight, Latticino & Millefiori ~ 3 1/4"Genuine Lalique Green Butterfly Model 1218000 + BoxLalique France Signed Crystal Sparrow Head Tucked Bird Figurine CoquetGenuine Lalique 'flacon Clairefontaine' Perfume Bottle Model 1130000Signed Lalique France Crystal Dampiere Frosted Sparrow Bird Vine Art Glass VaseLalique Frosted Crystal Partridge Bird FigureSigned Lalique France Art Glass Frosted Leaves Crystal Vase 4 1/4" Antique Green Opaline Glass Vase Octagon Hand Painted With Vine And Leaf PatternGenuine Lalique Amber Starfish Model 1185900 + BoxGenuine Lalique 'flacon 2 Fleurs' Perfume Bottle Model 1130100Vintage Lalique Crystal Nogent Candy Dish Sparrows Pedestal Bowl 4 BirdsSabino Opalescent Glass Bull And Frog Miniature Sculpture Figurine4 Sabino France Opalescent Glass Figural Knife Rests ~ Snail, Squirrel, BirdsSigned Baccarat France Crystal Louis De Salignac & Co Cognac Vodka Decanter RdhLalique France Crystal Bison PaperweightLalique Glass Pelican FigureLalique French Tree Of Life Algues Noir - 7.75" Lot Of 2Baccarat Crystal France Vase, "harmonie" Flower Vase 7 7/8" Mint