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”)

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    

Incredible Large C1880 French Baccarat Cut Glass & Gold Gilt Bronze Marble VasesRare Philippe Brocard Enamelled Glass Paris C1873 Lobmeyr Daum Galle Era TopVintage Lalique Gold Plate Crystal Art Glass Heliconia PendantIncredble Daum Pate De Vere French Art Glass Geisha By Sophie Zina O Ltd EditionR. Lalique France Crystal Coquilles Opalescent Shell Footed Low Bowl Plate ExclBohemian Art Deco Glass Victoire Car Mascot H.hoffmannLalique France Frosted Crystal Enfants Lidded Vanity Powder Jar Round Box ExclBaccarat Neptune Amethyst Art Glass Crystal Flower Vase Mint Condition!Superb Pair Victorian Gold Gilt Glass Wine Ewer Claret Pitcher Jugs BaccaratAntique, Authentic - Daum Nancy - Pate De Verre, Art-glass Table LampLalique France Frosted Crystal Nude Dancer Arms Up Figurine Paperweight StatueVintage Lalique Gold Plate Cobalt Blue Heliconia PendantR. Lalique France Frosted Crystal Jaffa Fruit Bowl Candy Dish Excellent Cond! Lalique France Frosted Crystal Bagatelle Flower Vase Birds Foliage ExcellentDaum France Volubilis Blue Flower Lidded Box Jar Covered Dish Excellent Cond!Lalique Masque De Femme RingAntique Signed Real Galle Cameo & Enamel Art Glass Vase "croix De Lorraine" 5" Lalique Masque De Femme PendantBaccarat Bouton-d'or Art Glass Clear Crystal Triangle Shaped Bud Vase Mint Cond!R. Lalique France Frosted Crystal Eglantine Floral Low Bowl Excellent Cond!Lalique Crystal Pheasant Carved Miniature Decorative Collectible Figurine Bn861Baccarat Tallyrand Art Glass Clear Crystal Flower Vase Mint Condition!Elegant Baccarat Architecture Glass Crystal VasePair Antique Baccarat Bullseye Glass Mantle Candlesticks W Lusters Cut ShadesLalique France Crystal Tokyo Cigarette Holder Impressed Frosted Floral Dots ExclSuperb Victorian Green French Opaline Glass Enameled Mantle Candle Lusters VasesSigned Lalique Vintage "tete De Lion" Head Lighter Frosted Crystal France GlassLalique France Frosted Crystal Gao Ashtray Serpentine Cendrier Bowl Mint Cond!Baccarat Giverny Art Glass Clear Crystal Swirl Flower Vase Signed Rrigot MintVintage Signed Lalique Nemours Frosted Crystal Glass Bowl 10"Daum France Pate De Verre Deverre Frog On Lily Pad * Etched SignedLalique France Crystal Honfleur Frosted Leaves Round Bowl Excellent Condition! Wonderful Signed Daum France Pate De Verre Art Glass Bears Mother & Cub FigureSigned Lalique!!! Vintage Pinsons Finch Sparrow Bird Bowl Frosted Crystal FranceLalique France Crystal Borea Frosted Swirl Leaf Cut Out Large Serving Bowl ExclGreat Set Of 11 Signed Baccarat Harcourt Pattern Wine Liqueur Glasses StemwareBaccarat 8" Crystal Flower VaseDaum Nancy Vase Signed And Dated / Large No Reserve Massive Baccarat Cut Glass Large Trinket What Not Art Glass BoxDaum Pate-de-verre Dragon - Flawless! (signed & Numbered)Lalique Figural Lion Frosted Crystal Table Lighter SignedLalique Crystal Bird Carved Miniature Decorative Collectible Figurine Bn861Lalique Bacchantes Clear Vase - Art Glass Crystal - Nudes France Antique Baccarat Crystal Trescléoux Decanter. Circa Late 19th Century. Baccarat Crystal ElephantA Four Layer Acid Cut Cameo Vase Marked Galle In 'japanese' StyleLalique Crystal-wisdom Box Set Of 3 Wise Monkeys Ref 1064800Rare Vintage Lalique France Apple Pomme 1 Leaf Nina Ricci Factice Perfume BottleVintage Lalique Crystal Nude Sirene Naiade Water Nymph Mermaid Ring DishGorgeous C. 1970 Art Deco Lalique "marrakech Express" Amber Art Glass VaseBeautiful Vintage Lalique France Art Glass Crystal Parakeet Love Birds StatueBaccarat Crystal Mother & Baby Penguin Large 8.5" Sculpture Mint Cond!Daum Nancy Glass Vase In Green With Gold DecorationLalique Crystal Nogent Bowl #1105100, Bird Bowl, Compote - No ReserveLalique Elizabeth Footed Bowl Birds & Vines Immaculate Cabinet Piece NrSavinel & Rozé Baccarat Crystal Lalande Ruby Clock, Leather Case With PaperworkLalique France Crystal Honfleur Frosted Leaves Deep Saucer Bowl Candy Dish Mint Vintage Lalique Glass Plaque C19605 Elegant Baccarat Dom Perignon 9 1/4" Fluted Champagne Glasses - 1 New With TagDevez French Cameo Art Glass Vase W/ Water & Boat (vienna?) Landscape Scenes