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    

Finest Art Deco Rene Lalique Coquille Pattern Opalescent Glass Bowl, 24 Cm DiamLalique France Danseuse Bras Baisse Crystal Nude Woman Art Glass Sculpture Aes Lalique France Danseuse Bras Leves Frosted Crystal Nude Woman Lady Sculpture AesLarge Lalique France Roscoff Pisces Fish Signed Glass Bread Fruit Center Bowl Nr Beautiful Rare Rene Lalique Perfume Bottle 2.75 Inches Tall With Cover 1937 Lalique France Cygne Frosted Swan Crystal Bird Clear Art Glass Paperweight AesRene Lalique Pink Tinged Bowl Pinsons No 10386 C 1933Signed Lalique Crystal Andromeda Pattern VaseVintage 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 !Lalique Crystal Nude Dancer Figurine "daneuse Bras Leves" Vintage Pink Satin Butterfly Signed Lalique Art GlassStunning Signed Lalique Bacchantes Style Nudes Glass VaseSigned Lalique France Napsbury Frosted Crystal Daisy Art Glass Whiskey Tumbler Very Rare Lalique Crystal Bacchantes Signed "lalique France" Vase Frosted GlassVintage Pair Lalique Frosted Glass Mesanges Bird Figural Candlesticks Holder NrLalique France Cannes Frosted Crystal Clear Art Glass Retired Cigar Ashtray AesLalique Paris Crystal "tete De Lion" Cigarette Lighter Vase / Urn (#5158)Signed Lalique France Nancy Frosted Crystal Clear Art Glass Stepped Ashtray BowlLalique France Crystal Dampierre Vase Humming Birds With Vines $895Large Heavy Signed Lalique France Art Glass Deux Poissons Two Fish Koi SculptureLalique France Mesanges Frosted Crystal Double Bird Art Glass Candleholder Aes Lalique France Danseuse Bras Baisse Crystal Nude Woman Art Glass Sculpture FigurLalique "naiade" Crystal Art Glass Nude Mermaid Cachet Seal FigureLalique Crystal Cactus Perfume BottleFemmes Antiques Lalique Art Glass Crystal Whiskey Decanter With 6 Glass SetHeavy Signed Lalique Art Glass Luxembourg Three Boys Children Statue French DecoLalique Crystal France Signed Compiegne Oak Leaf BowlLalique France Frosted Sparrow Figurinewith Head Under Wing SignedLalique Crystal Double Fish "deux Poissons" Two Carp Pisces Signed #116222 Lalique France Molinard Creation Clear & Frosted Nudes Perfume BottlesAntique Art Deco C.1922 Rene Lalique Panier De Fruits Art Glass Pendant NecklaceSigned Lalique France Crystal Angel Fish, Set Of 5 Mint Condition!**lalique Chrysis Nude Crystal Figure Mascot Frosted Art Signed Sculpture W@w**Magnificent C. 1920 Signed R. Lalique "ormeaux" Vase Pair Vintage Lalique Crystal Frosted Oak Leaf Chene Cups TumblersLalique Crystal "tete De Lion" Cigarette Lighter (missing Lighter Insert)3.5” Mint Lalique Crystal Owl Figurine - No Reserve Kf1Lalique #1184700 Hearts Paperweight Brand Nib Love Clear Crystal French Save$ FsLalique Crystal "sparrow (head Up)" FigurineVintage Sealed Lalique Perfume Bottle - Nina Ricci "l'air Du Temps" France100% Genuine Vintage Lalique Crystal France Liberte Eagle Statue Signed FranceLalique France Roxanne Frosted Crystal Clear Art Glass Signed Paperweight Aes Superb 4 3/4" Lalique Crystal Glass Lily Of The Valley Perfume Bottle MintR. Lalique Rampillon Vase Frosted Blue Etched Flowers Circa 1927Lalique Blue Crystal Coy FishLalique Red Glass Dragon Figurine Signed VintageLalique France Frosted Rapace Baby Owl Figurine Paperweight SignedLalique France Frosted Sparrow Figurine With Head Up SignedLalique France Giraffe Frosted Crystal Clear Signed Art Glass Seal Paperweight Lalique Nude Crystal Figure Frosted ArtLalique Jamaique Frosted Crystal Ashtray/dish/coin Holder 5 1/2" DiameterLalique France Frosted Sparrow Pin Tray Ring Holder Dish SignedLalique Amber Vibration Bud Vase Fine French Crystal Signed 6 1/4" ExcellentLalique France Frosted Sparrow Figurine With Head Down & Wings Spread SignedFrench Lalique Compiegne "oak Leaf" Crystal Oval BowlLalique Ombelles Umbels Red Crystal Christmas Noel Ornament Mint In Orig Box! NrVintage 8in Signed Lalique Crystal French Art Glass Peace Dove Flower FrogVintage Lalique Koi Fish Figurine, Crystal Art Glass Leaping Poisson, France

Recent News: Lalique Art Glass

Source: Google News

The Next 7: Your guide to this week's entertainment
Elmira Star-Gazette, October 25th

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

Art forgery case pits Louise McBride versus the art establishment
Warrnambool Standard, October 24th

And when, in 1998, John Playfoot appeared in a London court for selling a batch of Lalique glass that was alleged to have been irradiated to turn it purple, thus making it more valuable, he named Gant as the supplier. Gant continued trading until...Read more

ArtfixDaily, October 23rd

A fabulous array of Art Deco glass by the legendary French designer René Lalique is to go under the hammer at Bonhams Decorative Arts from 1860 sale, on the 19th of November at Bonhams Knightsbridge salerooms. Items worth approximately £150,000, ...Read more

From the archive, 23 October 1964: A very fair lady indeed
The Guardian, October 22nd

Every delightful absurdity of Edwardian costume, art nouveau, Lalique glass, William Morris wallpapers, white furniture, and stained glass panels in Wimpole Street front doors has been assembled and drastically redesigned by the modern Piranesi, to...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

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

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