Rene Lalique (1860-1945)

The master French glass designer, jeweler, furniture designer, painter, and sculptor, Rene Lalique, was born in Aye, Marne. As a young man his studies took him to London where he was apprenticed to goldsmith Louis Aucoc (1878-80) and then to the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs in Paris.

Lalique’s works in jewelry and silver incorporating enamel and glass were first shown at the 1894 Paris Salon of Societe des Artistes Francais and at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle. In 1902 he participated in Turin at Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte Decorativa Moderna, in 1903 at Grafton Galleries in London, in 1905 at Agnew’s in London. He first exhibited his glassware in 1912. By 1925 his artistry was on display throughout the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes – including at his own pavilion.

In 1897, at the age of just 37, he was appointed Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur. At the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle he presented a spectacular collection of his jewelry.

Widely known by the turn of the century for his exqusite jewelry, in 1902 he created a new process for molding glass. And his interest in glass led him to include pieces of carved figurative crystal in his jewelry. He began experimentations in glass with the 1904 molded-glass panel for the front door of his own home, perfume bottles and pressed glass. Among his renowned works is the flacon for Marcel Rochas’s Femme and the famous double dove motif for Nina Ricci’s L’Air to Temps.

In 1913 he designed and furnished over 200 window panes for the Coty building on Fifth Avenue in New York. He abandoned jewelry in favor of pressed glass; although he finished pieces with hand-polishing and cutting, he used semi-industrial techniques to blow-mold and stamp.

In the 1920s Lalique designed some 350 vases and bowls in glass, along with a range of tableware, car mascots, jewelry, lighting, and scent bottles.  He also produced a range of glass designs for the 1935 oceanliner Normandie. From 1945 the Lalique business was supervised by his son Marc Lalique.