Opalescent Wonders | Exploring the Glass Creations of René Lalique

Opalescent Wonders | Exploring the Glass Creations of René Lalique

Senior Valuer & Glass Specialist, Alex Froggatt offers an insight into the life and work of renowned French jeweller, medallist, and glass designer, Rene Lalique. 

11 June 2024

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In our forthcoming 9th July Design sale, we are proud to present a selection of René Lalique’s work and feel fortunate to be offering several designs, mostly from the 1920s and 1930s, in clear, stained, opalescent and coloured glass. From the first moment I became interested in glass, René Lalique has been an incredibly captivating character with his ability to excel in both jewellery and glass being unusual and impressive.   In addition, his business acumen and understanding of his clientele's exacting requirements paved the way for a new wave in glassmaking and a successful dynasty which is still relevant today. 

René Lalique is a name synonymous with jewellery, glass and design. He started his career in jewellery, designing for contemporary jewellers such as Louis Aucoc, with an emphasis on the Art Nouveau style. Scent bottles then brought another facet to Lalique’s output and a subsequent collecting area. Some of his first scent bottles designs for François Coty were produced by Legras & Cie, although as his business empire expanded, he produced his own glass. Arguably some of the most sought after pieces take the form of relief moulded vases and bowls, often with stylised Art Deco motifs. During the 1920s over 200 different vase designs were produced by Lalique.

 

René Lalique (French, 1860-1945) a 'Marguerites' vase, No. 922, designed in 1923, stained and frosted glass, acid-etched 'R LALIQUE FRANCE', 20.5cm high (£2,000-3,000)

René Lalique (French, 1860-1945) a 'Marguerites' vase, No. 922, designed in 1923, stained and frosted glass, acid-etched 'R LALIQUE FRANCE', 20.5cm high (£2,000-3,000)

 

René Lalique's use of glass is ingenious in terms of the visual effect it creates while managing to maintain a relative ease of production when compared to other contemporary glassmakers such as Daum and Émile Gallé.  A plethora of techniques were used by Lalique, below I focus on a few of these which designate his glass production as being some of the finest of the 20th century.

Opalescent glass and René Lalique go hand in hand. The effect is achieved by using several chemicals, including toxic ones such as arsenic, alongside cooling and reheating to produce the iconic ‘bloom’ or ‘fire’ in the thicker sections of the moulded design. Despite not being a new process, the French glassmaker’s use of the technique added a new dimension to it, paving the way for beautifully accented pieces such as the Ceylan vase and Suzanne figure. The strength and colour of the opalescence is still a huge factor in desirability for collectors.

 

René Lalique (French, 1860-1945) a 'Moissac' vase, No. 992, designed in 1927, pale amber glass, wheel engraved 'R LALIQUE FRANCE', 13.1cm high (£1,000-1,500)

René Lalique (French, 1860-1945) a 'Moissac' vase, No. 992, designed in 1927, pale amber glass, wheel engraved 'R LALIQUE FRANCE', 13.1cm high (£1,000-1,500)

 

Clear glass is also expertly used in Lalique’s work. Often clear glass pieces are embellished with frosted sections adding a greater sense of depth and accentuating the design. Furthermore, the use of colour, through surface applied stains or washes, differentiates the low and high points of the relief moulded design.

Despite Lalique’s work often appearing as clear or a ghostly blue with the use of opalescence, he was not afraid to add colour to his works with pale amber, jade green and deep red being favoured colours. Huge disparities in the value of a piece are clearly seen when comparing the same vase or bowl in different colours.

 


 

 

Tuesday 9 July | 10am

design@sworder.co.uk | 01279 817778

 

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