THE FEMALE FORM HONORED IN GLASS AT CHRISTIE'S
Suzanne Statuette; 1925; 8 3/4 inch high; sold for $24,000.
Photo courtesy of Christie's, New York.
Rene Lalique took the curves, softness, warmth and fluidity of the female form and honored it in glass. Like fireflies in the darkness, Lalique’s sleek glass beauties came to life with extraordinary refinement.
Maybe the refinement came from his early beginnings as a jeweler. Maybe it came from his being an innovator. However it happened, Lalique will be remembered as a master designer of late-19th and early-20th century Art Nouveau and Art Deco style.
Lalique proved that mass-production wasn’t the death of design. In 1907, Francis Coty the French perfume maker commissioned him to create a label design for one of his scents.
Lalique not only designed a label but also a glass bottle suitable for commercial production. Glass bowls followed as well as vases, decanters, paper weights, powder boxes and statuettes. He demonstrated how glass was the perfect medium for the machine age. Great design could be affordable and available to everyone.
His pressed and mold-blown techniques made it possible to design intricate sculptural images quickly with no loss to quality or definition.
Even though pressed glass originated in the United States in the 1820s, it was the French who took glass design to the next level some 100 years later.
Most of Lalique’s glass creations came from Wingen-sur-Moder, the glassworks factory he used in France from 1921 until his death in 1945. Glass is still being produced there today by his family.
As a designer, Lalique was a stickler for detail. He oversaw the production of each piece bearing his mark insuring its high quality.
Whether it was perfume bottles or vases, Lalique’s glossy beauties, water nymphs, insects, and translucent flowers seemed to come alive in glass.
They’re compelling. They’re also not rare.
From a collecting standpoint, clear and frosted Lalique glass (plates, stemware, and bowls) are more plentiful and also more affordable for the beginning collector. Pieces can be had for well under $400.
Many serious collectors ignore the clear and frosted Lalique and focus on the colored, more spectacular pieces like the Suzanne statuette. Strongly colored glass is not usually associated with Lalique, but his amber, electric blue and reds are outstanding.
Cast in opalescent glass, Suzanne’s robe is draped over her outstretched arms. Her nude form, pure and graceful, is a statement in and of itself. It’s Rene Lalique’s soliloquy to women—a tribute to the female form at its highest.
The 8 3/4 inch high statuette sold recently at auction for $24,000. Produced in 1925, it’s the early pieces like this that are desirable.
Mold definition softens with use and even though Lalique replaced his molds often, the earliest pieces with crisp molding are the most sought-after. Perfect condition is also important with mass-produced glass.
Unlike most pressed glass which is often unmarked, Lalique is usually marked. Many of the early molds were also reused later, so reproductions are plentiful.
Almost all Lalique glass is marked with variations of “R. Lalique.” After Lalique’s death, only his surname appeared. Fake signatures on later pieces often include the initial “R.”
On Feb. 10, Christie’s, New York, featured the Lalique collection of Japanese collector Tsuyoshi Kajikawa on the block.
Here are some current values for Lalique glass.
Glass bowl; Sirene; opalescent; introduced 1920; 14 3/8 inches high; $7,800.
Surtout de Table; centerpiece; clear frosted glass; on bronze base; introduced 1922; 17 inches high; $45,600.
Glass vase; Terpsichore; opalescent; introduced 1937; 8 inches high; $54,000.
Glass clock; Le Jour et La Nuit; gray; introduced 1926; 14 7/8 inches high; $54,000.
Glass vase; Bacchantes; opalescent; introduced 1927; 9 5/8 inches high; $66,000.
Vase; Grenouilles et Nenuphars; molded and applied glass; introduced 1912; 8 3/16 inches high; $318,400.
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