René Lalique

René Lalique


René Lalique, born 1860, trained with the goldsmith Louise Aucoc from the age of sixteen, while simultaneously attending the Paris school of decorative arts in Paris – École des Arts Décoratifs (today ENSAD; l'École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs). After 1880, he made his living as an independent designer, selling his designs to the most prestigious jewel-making workshops in Paris – Carties, Boucheron and Destape – and was even appointed Destape’s director.

The greatest asset of Lalique’s work for the field of jewel-making in general was his unworn ideas and his desire to work with various materials. He combined precious stones with commonplace pieces of glass and often employed glass and enamel, giving new dimension to the artistic use of the latter. During the Art Nouveau period, Lalique created his most breathtaking works, dominated by glass supplemented with other materials. In the early the 20th century, the artist focused on glass vases with floral motifs. A significant turning point in his career was the commission from the French perfumer, François Cota, who invited him to design flacons for his company. The unexpected demand that followed resulted in establishing a small company manufacturing glass whose production soon boosted into mass dimensions due to the extreme success of the new assortment.

Unlike Gallé and Tiffany, Lalique did not experiment with the chemical composition of glass, and was thus rather limited in this sense. His oeuvre is characteristic of milk-blue opalescent and colorless glass, sometimes polished, sometimes matt. The most popular, however, was glass in bright blue and green, amethyst and claret as well as black. His glass products were not decorated with painting; the decoration was usually profiled in either low or high relief, and yet another decorative element became the use of striking contrasts between polished and matt surfaces.

It was Lalique’s graphic talents, reflected in the decoration of his glass products and first spotted in his designs of jewelry, what made him the extraordinary artist he was. The disciplined line and the well-elaborated style which the artist adopted from Japanese art – a style so popular during the Art Nouveau era – is the most characteristic feature of René Lalique’s heritage. The wide variety of assortment produced by the Lalique factory ranges from vases and tableware, perfume flacons, toilet boxes, pendants and breastpins to lamps and lamp shades.

René Lalique died in 1945. Thanks to the sensitive transformation of high artistic standards to the field of mass production, the name of Lalique became a guarantee of high artistic quality whose successful development is the merit of the master’s family members.