Rene Lalique Glassware
René Lalique (1860-1945) is known for his beautiful glass pieces that are considered to be highly collectible. Lalique though did not start out as a glass maker but as a jeweller. Though he also achieved success and acclaim in this field, it was in glass where he really found his true calling. History
Lalique’s formal foray into glassworks started in the year 1902, when he opened a small glassware facility in the town of Clairfontaine. He initially made decorative panels and glass plaques. Lalique was able to apply some of his jewellery making know-how in creating glassworks when he used a jewellery casting technique called lost wax or cire perdue in fabricating his first glass pieces.
One of Lalique’s first patrons was François Coty, who bought customized perfume bottles from him. Lalique designed a total of 16 essence bottles for Coty and also made a number of windows and objects for Coty’s main office in Fifth Avenue, New York. Coty commissioned a lot of works to Lalique, which eventually forced the latter to transfer to a bigger glassworks facility in Combs-la-Ville.
Combs-la-Ville already had a glassmaking tradition when Lalique moved there, which can be partly explained by the fact that it has plenty of silica-rich sand.
Lalique continued to produce glass pieces for Coty through the 1930s. Around this period, he also supplied essence bottles to other notable perfume makers such as Roger et Gallet and d’Orsay. Later on, with the success of his perfume bottles, Lalique came out with his own line of essence containers, such as the Amphitrite and Tantot.
During World War I, production stopped at Lalique’s Combs-la-Ville facility. When the war ended, Lalique revived his glassmaking business. Throughout the 1920s, Lalique produced works that showcased pairs of lovebirds and parakeets, a design scheme that he would utilize throughout his career.
In 1921, wanting to produce affordable pieces for the masses, Lalique opened a big production facility in Wingen-sur-Moder. It was also here where he was able to perfect his press-molding techniques. Some of the notable glass pieces that came out of this factory were the Ronces, Naïades, Archers and Palèstre vases.
In the 1920s, Lalique also started experimenting on using the bodies of men and women as design motifs.
From the mid 1920s to 1930, Lalique made around 20 car mascots, pieces that were meant to replace the original hood ornaments in luxury cars. These heads were shaped like animals such as horses, roosters, and peacocks and are regarded as among the most valuable Lalique collectibles today.
In the 1930s, Lalique began producing tableware, ashtrays, glassware, clocks, and boxes. In 1937, production at the Combs-la-Ville factory was halted due to the Depression. During World War II, Lalique was forced to close another of his glassworks facilities.
Lalique unfortunately was not able to rebuild his business as he passed away on May 11, 1945, just two days after Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces.
Lalique glass collectibles
Among the most expensive Lalique pieces are the rare art deco hood ornaments that are shaped like animals. These items can easily fetch $2,500 a piece. The first glass pieces that Lalique made where he used the lost wax technique are also highly valuable.
Pieces that Lalique made during the Depression years are a lot less expensive. Many of these items feature simple designs and clean lines. Mass produced Laliques are also more affordable.
Many of these pieces use clear or frosted glass. It should not be assumed though that “cheap” Laliques are of inferior quality. Lalique had very high standards when it came to his products and he took pains to ensure that his facilities were only producing high quality items.
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