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    

Antique Lalique French Frosted Glass Chinese Cicada Beetle Bug Pin Brooch Lalique Crystal Opalescent Clear Orchidee Orchid Vase With Box - No ReserveSet 8 Baccarat French Crystal Massena Pattern Fluted Champagne 8.5" Glasses CspIn Box Lalique Tourbillon Vase Signed Mint French Art Glass Frosted CrystalSigned Lalique France Frosted Crystal Dove Bird Art Glass Candy Nut Dish Nr GafLalique Clairefontaine Lily Of The Valley Perfume Bottle Shabby Chic Cond #1 YqzSet Six Signed Baccarat French Crystal Massena Pattern Water Goblet Glasses CspBaccarat Harmonie Perfume Bottle Signed Stopper And Label #2 YqzSet 8 Signed Baccarat French Crystal Massena Patter Champagne Flute Glasses MsgSigned Lalique France Frosted Anemone Deux Fleurs Two Flowers Perfume Bottle VtgLalique Crystal Vase With Cherub Design - 6" X 3.5" Diameter - Signed/numberedLalique Art Glass Bird - Signed - Excellent Condition - Paperweight FigurineAntique Lalique Sabino Era "french Line" Opalescent Glass Paperweight AshtrayLalique France Crystal Clairfontaine Perfume Bottle -signed Lily Of The ValleyWonderful Antique 1930s Lalique Vase With Amazing Bird And DetailsLalique Crystal Art Glass Dahlia Flower Perfume Bottle Vintage Signed MintLalique France Frosted Crystal Art Glass Votive Candleholder Pair Lot Of 2Signed Lalique French Art Glass Charis Large Dove Figurine Crystal Statue Nr TbhBaccarat Crystal Perfection Square Whisky Decanter W Stopper New W Defect 12-39Lalique Crystal Art Glass Perfume Bottle Vintage Signed French Frosted Art DecoWonderful Antique 1930s Lalique Bowl Amazing Details Bottom Lalique SignatureLalique Dampierre Frosted French Crystal Birds Vase FranceLsnr Signed Lalique Bird Sparrow Pin Jewlry Tray Frosted Art Glass French Baccarat Crystal Goblet Glass Massena 7"Lalique Crystal Art Glass Perfume Bottle Vintage Signed Mint Frosted Art DecoVintage Art Glass Deco Lalique France Samoa Perfume Bottle Flacon Signed FrostedMint Baccarat Lucky Butterfly -purple/sapphire- French Art Glass Figurine SignedLarge Rare Antique Rene Lalique Art Glass Panel Of A Baby - SignedLsnr 3 Baccarat Stemmed Bourbon Wine Water Glass Lead Crystal Compiegne HarcourtMint Baccarat Lucky Butterfly -pink- French Art Glass Figurine SignedMint Baccarat Lucky Butterfly -red/ruby- French Art Glass Figurine SignedLalique Daphne Daphine Woman Hinged Powder Dresser Box CrystalBaccarat Crystal Massena Tall Water Goblet 7" Set Of 28 Portieux Vallerysthal French Blue Opaline Champagne/wine Glasses 4 1/4"Art Deco Glass Car Mascot Hood Ornament Figurine Sculpture 1930's 12 Baccarat Crystal Wine GlassesSabino Art Glass Opalescent Miniature Fish14" Jim Bean Decanter "i Dream Of Jeannie" With Cork Insert StopperPierre D'avesn French Art Deco Glass Vase W Waterlilies 1920s Satin Rose ColorSabino Art Glass Opalescent Crystal Branch Of Birds BrokenReal Galle Beautiful Vase Baccarat Spirale Vase Thomas Bastide Limited Edition. Baccarat Crystal Oceanie Vase Perfect. Free Expedited Shipping.Antique Baccarat French Cameo Glass Inkwell Perfume BottleArt Deco Etling Opalescent Glass Lourdess Sculpture Madonna Virgin France Mint 8 Baccarat For Tiffany & Co Nemours Crystal Claret Wine Glasses Excellent Original Daum Nancy Art Nouveau VaseAntique 19 Century French Bowl With Bronze With Amazing Baccarat Style BowlA Beautiful Genuine Original Early Lalique France "malaga" Vase Designed By ReneBaccarat Crystal Stemware Massena Red Wine Or Water Glass Set Of 2 - 7.5"Miniature Signed "galle" Cameo VaseLalique Frosted & Clear Crystal Bust Of JesusLalique Nina Ricci Large "grande Pomme" (apple) Crystal Perfume Bottle High Quality French Cameo & Enamel Art Glass Vase W/ Colorful Zinnia-type FlowerSaint-louis Crystal Paperweight SeashellSigned Lalique France Glass Frosted Crystal Figure Car Mascot Nude Female 5.5"Lalique Doves Sylvie Art Glass Vase With Flower Frog SignedLalique Crystal Lune Vase Bird Parrot Parakeet Signed / Marking RareLalique Rosine - Mint - Ca 1960'sBaccarat Massena Crystal 6 1/2 Inch Wine Goblets