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    

Large Lalique France Roscoff Pisces Fish Signed Glass Bread Fruit Center Bowl Nr Rene Lalique Six Pans Six Sided Bowl Rasins Clear And Frosted Bowl Model 3102 Very Rare C. 1930 R. Lalique Amber "laiterons" Vase Vase With Gray Patina SignedA Rene Lalique Opalescent Tokio Box Two Parts Opalescent Model 50 Circa 1921Genuine Signed Lalique France Frosted Crystal Igor Catfish Caviar Serving BowlLalique France Danseuse Bras Baisse Crystal Nude Woman Art Glass Sculpture Aes Lalique France Danseuse Bras Leves Frosted Crystal Nude Woman Lady Sculpture AesFinest Art Deco Rene Lalique Coquille Pattern Opalescent Glass Bowl, 24 Cm DiamBeautiful Lalique Rainette Art Glass Frog FigurineLalique Crystal 100% Authentic Vase Tumbler 4 3/4" Oak Leaf Excellent Nr!!!Signed Lalique France Frosted Dove Sylvie Crystal Art Glass Vase W Flower FrogSigned Lalique France Frosted Crystal Art Glass Bird Foliage Compote BowlLalique Nogent Compote Bowl With SparrowsLalique France Cannes Frosted Crystal Clear Art Glass Retired Cigar Ashtray AesLalique France Cygne Frosted Swan Crystal Bird Clear Art Glass Paperweight AesAs-is Lalique Bacchantes Vase 1930's-40's Signed Crystal (7114)Lalique Biches Turqoise VaseHeavy Signed Lalique Art Glass Luxembourg Three Boys Children Statue French DecoSigned Lalique France Napsbury Frosted Crystal Daisy Art Glass Whiskey Tumbler Lalique France Mesanges Frosted Crystal Double Bird Art Glass Candleholder Aes Vintage Pink Satin Butterfly Signed Lalique Art GlassExquisite Pair Of Lalique Art Glass "hirondelle" Swallow Bookends / PaperweightsVintage Retro "lalique" France Crystal Glass Bull Paperweight Figurine - SignedLalique Crystal Nude Dancer Figurine "daneuse Bras Leves" Lalique Clairefontaine Falcon Muguet Lily Of The Valley Perfume BottleVintage Pair Lalique Frosted Glass Mesanges Bird Figural Candlesticks Holder NrLalique Art Deco 100% Authentic Beautiful Ashtray France Nr!!!Signed Lalique France Frosted Crystal Sparrow Art Glass Figural Bird SculptureLarge Heavy Signed Lalique France Art Glass Deux Poissons Two Fish Koi SculptureLalique France Giraffe Frosted Crystal Clear Signed Art Glass Seal Paperweight Lalique Green Glass Dragon Figurine Signed VintageSigned Lalique France Nancy Frosted Crystal Clear Art Glass Stepped Ashtray BowlLalique Crystal Figurine Sparrow Bird France Glass Sculpture VintageR. Lalique Rampillon Vase Frosted Blue Etched Flowers Circa 1927Lalique French Frosted Crystal Resting Rabbit -authentic W/boxSigned Lalique France Nude Diana W/ Pan Frosted Crystal 5 1/2" Glass SculptureLalique France Frosted Crystal Sparrow Art Glass Bird Signed Figural SculptureExquisite Lalique Art Glass "sylvie" Vase ~ Two Love Birds Entwined ~ No.1225800Lalique French Frosted Crystal Sitting Rabbit -authentic W/boxGregoire Green Toad Frog Crystal Sculpture Paperweight Signed Lalique FranceSigned Lalique France Nude Lady "floreal" Art Glass Figurine 31/2"Lalique France Roxanne Frosted Crystal Clear Art Glass Signed Paperweight Aes Lalique Footed BowlRare Lalique Red Crystal Fish~signed Lalique France~mint ConditionLalique France Danseuse Bras Baisse Crystal Nude Woman Art Glass Sculpture FigurLalique Crystal "tete De Lion" Cigarette Lighter (missing Lighter Insert)Lalique? 2 Flower Anenome Bottle Stopper UnmarkedLalique Charging Bull Figurine Paperweight Signed Frosted Glass Beautiful!Lalique Crystal Double Fish "deux Poissons" Two Carp Pisces Signed #11622Vintage Lalique Biches Vase Deer Frosted CrystalLalique Crystal France Signed Compiegne Oak Leaf BowlLalique Clear Nude Dancer Women FigurineLalique-france Crystal Gui Molded Mistletoe Leaves Berries Vines PlateLalique Glass Eagle Head - Rene Lalique - Tete D'aigle Lalique Authentic Vintage Lalique Crystal France Aries Ram Head Vase , SignedExquisite Lalique Art Glass "sylvie" Vase ~ Two Love Birds Entwined ~ **lalique Chrysis Nude Crystal Figure Mascot Frosted Art Signed Sculpture W@w**Lalique France Gregoire Toad Frog Sculpture Artist Signed Dated 4-1-1989Lalique France Crystal Honfleur 8 1/4 Geranium Flower Leaf Dessert Plate DishLimited Edition Lalique Boxed Scent Bottles

Recent News: Lalique Art Glass

Source: Google News

The Next 7: Your guide to this week's entertainment
Elmira Star-Gazette, October 18th

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

Easy Ways to Amass Valuable Collections
ThinkAdvisor, October 17th

Collecting glass art in earnest has been popular since the 1970s, according to Nicholas Dawes, vice president of special collections with Heritage Auctions in Dallas. This market is dominated by Americans, says the expert, who has written “Lalique...Read more

An Easy Way to Amass a Valuable Art Collection
ThinkAdvisor, October 17th

Collecting glass art in earnest has been popular since the 1970s, according to Nicholas Dawes, vice president of special collections with Heritage Auctions in Dallas. This market is dominated by Americans, says the expert, who has written “Lalique...Read more

Estate Sale Roundup: October 17-19: The weather is perfect for rummaging
Austin Chronicle, October 17th

Solid mid-century furnishings, decor, art, cooking and serving items, massive kitchen linen collection, collectibles, costume jewelry, holiday decor, art opportunities, power and hand tools, and more. Cash, credit/debit cards accepted. ... Crystal and...Read more

The 2014 Baltimore Summer Antiques Show
Maine Antique Digest, October 14th

There was French art glass, Austrian Loetz, Tiffany, English cameo glass, French Lalique, and Italian Murano. Glass, ceramics, and Asian arts are the show's strong suits. Chinese was spoken on every aisle. Some extraordinary Chinese works of art were...Read more

Oranges vs. oranges: Los Angeles' day in the style sun
Palm Beach Daily News, October 10th

Completed in 1928, the lobby forecourt contained glass by René Lalique, who also designed some of the door panels, mailboxes and directories. The interiors featured Art Deco fixtures, stair rails and molded-plaster ceiling panels, while Oviatt's 10...Read more

The Man Who Changed the Face of Shanghai
New York Times, October 2nd

Yet, over the course of the years, Sassoon's buildings, apparently too solid to demolish, continued to stand, so many mysterious Art Deco and Streamline Moderne megaliths in a cityscape growing ever grimier with coal dust. ... He showed me tantalizing...Read more

Lalique: changing with the times
BusinessWorld Online Edition, September 28th

THE EARLY 20th century was an interesting time to be an artist, with styles changing almost every decade. René Lalique, born in 1860, adapted well to the flux of the changing moods in art and society. Mr. Lalique worked with glass and crystal...Read more