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    

Finest Art Deco Rene Lalique Coquille Pattern Opalescent Glass Bowl, 24 Cm DiamLalique France Danseuse Bras Baisse Crystal Nude Woman Art Glass Sculpture Aes Antique Le Verre Francais French Cameo Art Glass Garances Large Floral Vase SwrLalique France Danseuse Bras Leves Frosted Crystal Nude Woman Lady Sculpture Aes Beautiful Rare Rene Lalique Perfume Bottle 2.75 Inches Tall With Cover 1937 Pristine Set Of 6 Baccarat Massena Fluted Champagne Glasses 8 1/2"Large Lalique France Roscoff Pisces Fish Signed Glass Bread Fruit Center Bowl NrRare 1920's Perfume Bottle Possibly Lalique Gabilla Glycine StyleLalique France Cygne Frosted Swan Crystal Bird Clear Art Glass Paperweight AesRene Lalique Pink Tinged Bowl Pinsons No 10386 C 1933Daum Glass Vase Art Deco Vintage Worth Perfume Mint In Box Unused Old French Lalique Cobalt Blue BottleLalique France Deux Cygne Double Frosted Swan Crystal Bird Glass Paperweight AesLalique Perfume Bottle " Folie " Daisies Signed & Labeled Excellent !Fantastic "butterfly Girl"bohemian Art Deco Vaseline Glass Car Mascot H.hoffmannFantastic Bohemian Art Deco Amber Glass Butterfly Girl Car Mascot H.hoffmann4 Baccarat Harmonie #1 Tumblers Fine French Crystal Glasses Signed ExcellentVintage Pink Satin Butterfly Signed Lalique Art GlassSigned Lalique Crystal Andromeda Pattern VaseFantastic Art Deco Glass Speed Girl Bohemian Car Mascot Hood Ornament Stunning Signed Lalique Bacchantes Style Nudes Glass VaseLalique Crystal Nude Dancer Figurine "daneuse Bras Leves" Original Signed Lrc Sculpture Art Glass Pate De Verre Crystal Vide Poche FrogBaccarat France Black Crystal Rabbit Bunny Figurine Paperweight Signed In BoxSigned Lalique France Napsbury Frosted Crystal Daisy Art Glass Whiskey Tumbler 6 Baccarat Harmonie #2 Dof Tumblers Fine French Crystal Glasses Signed ExcellentSuperb! Muller Freres Blue Glazed Art Nouveau French Frosted Art Glass Vase Bohemian Art Deco Vaseline Glass Car Mascot Hood Ornament Design H.hoffmannVery Rare Lalique Crystal Bacchantes Signed "lalique France" Vase Frosted GlassVintage Pair Lalique Frosted Glass Mesanges Bird Figural Candlesticks Holder NrGorgeous C. 1925 French Cameo Art Glass Le Verre Francais Vase Signed CharderFantastic Art Deco Spirit Of The Wind Victoire Bohemian Glass Car Mascot Lalique Paris Crystal "tete De Lion" Cigarette Lighter Vase / Urn (#5158)Signed Baccarat France Crystal Clear Art Glass Frog Toad Sculpture Paperweight Antique Daum Henri Berge Pate De Verre Beetles, Circa 1906-1920Lalique France Crystal Dampierre Vase Humming Birds With Vines $895Bohemian Art Deco Glamorous Venus Glass Sculpture Car Mascot Design HoffmannArt Deco Butterfly Girl Bohemian Glass Sculptural Car Mascot H.hoffmannLlique Vase Made In France Si9gned And Lovely Heavy Art Crystal Frosted ClearBaccarat Stemware 2 Champagne Flutes Signed - Massena 8 1/2" (lotb)Signed Lalique France Nancy Frosted Crystal Clear Art Glass Stepped Ashtray BowlLarge Heavy Signed Lalique France Art Glass Deux Poissons Two Fish Koi SculptureD'argental Cameo Art Glass Vase Same Method As GalleLalique France Cannes Frosted Crystal Clear Art Glass Retired Cigar Ashtray AesLalique Crystal Cactus Perfume BottleVtg Signed Lalique French Art Glass Coq Nain Rooster Cock Figurine Sculpture SamOriginal Signed Lrc Sculpture Art Glass Pate De Verre Crystal Vide Poche Lizard Nancy Daum Cameo French Art Glass Vase 13.5"Lalique France Mesanges Frosted Crystal Double Bird Art Glass Candleholder Aes Baccarat Whisky Decanter W/ Stopper French Crystal Signed Lalique France Danseuse Bras Baisse Crystal Nude Woman Art Glass Sculpture FigurLalique "naiade" Crystal Art Glass Nude Mermaid Cachet Seal FigureBaccarat France Clear Studio Art Glass Puffed Heart Paperweight In Original BoxPortieux Pv Blue Opaline French Set 12 Water Wine Goblets Vintage Exc Condition!Baccarat Crystal Stemware 2 Water Goblets - Massena 7 1/4" Baccarat Cut Glass Nancy Decanter W/ Prismatic Stopper French Crystal Signed Baccarat Crystal "toucan" Bird FigurineSigned Baccarat Clear Crystal Art Glass Star Flower Desk Library Paperweight Nr18k Gold 750 Signed Baccarat France Pink Art Glass Butterfly Pendant Charm TssHeavy Signed Lalique Art Glass Luxembourg Three Boys Children Statue French Deco