How to identify 1920s Lalique glassware
How to identify 1920s Lalique glassware
Rene Lalique produced some of his most collectible art deco designs during the 1920s
With press screenings of Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby well and truly underway in the UK, the roaring 20s' art deco aesthetic has never been more in vogue. Well, not since the 1920sanyway.
The 1920s were defined by youthful exuberance as well as technological progress. Cameras, for example, became a lot more commonplace
Characterised by clean lines and strong curves, elements of art deco were applied to the design of everything from architecture to furniture, automobiles to ceramics during the 1920s and early 1930s.
Wedded to modern machine age materialslike chrome and Bakelite, art deco represented a new era in terms of design.
Unlike modernist art movements, such as symbolism or dadaism, buttressed by social philosophies and politicked manifestos, art deco was a purely ornamental movement.
Although it reflected the mechanical and technological advancements taking place throughout the jazz age, it declined to comment or to criticise.
A typical art deco vase produced in Bohemia
Author and wife of F Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda, captures something of the flippant glamour inherent in the art deco movement in her 1922 article Eulogy on the Flapper: "The Flapper woke from her lethargy of sub-deb-ism, bobbed her hair, put on her choicest pair of earrings and a great deal of audacity and rouge and went into the battle.
"She flirted because it was fun to flit and wore a one-piece because she had a good figure, she covered her face with powder and paint because she didn't need it and she refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring."
Yet art deco was somewhat democratic - it represented all manner of things to all manner of people, and was as relevant to the factory worker as to the flapper girl. Mass production meant that everyday folk on everyday incomes could furnish their homes with fashionable art deco designs.
Lalique art glass
A 1920s Lalique vase produced for the mass market
And that's where Rene Lalique (1860-1945)comes in.
Having established a small glassworks on the outskirts of Paris, Lalique began creating art glass in 1902. Initially, Lalique produced his decorative glass items by hand, in very limited editions.
As such, Lalique vases, ornaments and perfume bottles were prohibitively expensive, and their purchase the preserve of only the very wealthy.
In 1921, however, Lalique opened a large, high-volume manufactory in Alsace. The surge in production naturally made Lalique glassware more affordable and therefore available.
During this period moulding techniques were perfected, and some 200 different vases (many of which boasted distinctive, wide necks) were mass produced on site.
Typical vase designs from this period include a number of ovoid Ronces, some translucent, but others bright blue, red or luminous amber. The Ronce design, which was often garlanded in tangled vines, was also repurposed as a base for a table lamp.
Other vases designed for the mass market were decorated with wild animals and reptiles, while figurative vases and vessels - which were incredibly popular during the 20s - generally figured women, and in particular, mermaids.
In order to retain his brand's exclusive cachet, Lalique also designed a number of one of a kind and limited edition pieces. Both vases and sculptural items were produced in small numbers, some featured love birds and parakeets in relief, while others were decorated with a wasp motif.
The vast majority of these limited edition Lalique items are colourless,although his Courges vases are saturated in cobalt, vermilion and amber.
Lalique car mascots
A Lalique car mascot in the form of a dragonfly
From 1925 until 1930, Lalique designed and produced a limited number of opalescent car mascots, which were intended to take the place of standard hood ornaments on a luxury automobiles.
These peacocks, wild boars, dragonflies and falcons are highly prized among collectors and can achieve four figure sums at auction.