What Every Collector Should Know About Lalique

René Lalique 'Coquilles,' a Collection of Bowls, design 1924. Sold for £875 via Bonhams (April 2015).

Lalique is a name synonymous with the decadence and detail of late 19th-century French jewelry and early 20th-century decorative glass design. Taking its name from creator René Jules Lalique, the company is universally recognized for the remarkable craftsmanship and ultimate elegance across its various patterns and styles, from Lalique vases to enameled jewelry and perfume bottles.

Who is René Lalique?

The story of Lalique crystal began in the 1870s, when the young René Lalique began his first apprenticeship with jeweler Louis Aucoc while also pursuing study at the School of Decorative Arts in Paris. Learning the nuances of jewelry design and also developing his drafting skills, he quickly developed an acumen for compelling design. He rapidly earned acclaim as a designer working for some of the biggest French jewelry brands of the era, including Bucheron and Cartier, by creating opulent yet organically-inspired pieces indicative of the Art Nouveau era. He opened his first Parisian studio in 1885 and continued to excel in his jewelry designs, but by the following decade he was ready for the next phase in his career.

The Rise of the Art Deco Movement

It was during this 1890s period that Lalique began to experiment with glass, and by the 1910s he had almost fully shifted his focus to glasswork. At the same time, he was aware of the changing trends, so in addition to embracing glass as a medium, he also absorbed the clean geometry and stylized motifs of the rising Art Deco movement. Incorporating these elements with his parallel play with surface and texture, he became just as masterful designing glass as he had been with jewelry. The display of his wares at the 1925 Parisian Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs (the exhibition that proved the source of the term “Art Deco”) marked his arrival on the international stage as a true master glassmaker, and the remaining years of his career were studded with illustrious commissions through which his work could shine.

A Change for the Company

René’s death in 1945 brought an end to a significant era for the company. His son, Marc, carried the brand into the crystal age and his granddaughter, Marie-Claude, kept up operations until the sale of the company in 2008 to the Art & Fragrance group. It is the work of René’s generation, though, that truly keeps collectors coming back. From daring car mascots to elegant vases and dangling jewelry, Lalique crystal is a consistent favorite among collectors, and with the rarity of exceptional examples ever rising, prices are headed skyward too. As one example, an Art Nouveau enamel, diamond, and pearl pendant necklace sold for just under $1 million in November 2017, a record for Lalique – and for Art Nouveau – jewelry. Read on to learn more about some of the more coveted styles and the prices these works achieve in the market today.

Lalique Jewelry

Many of the oldest surviving pieces are Lalique jewelry, as these designs dominated his career in the late 19th and early 20th century. In addition to their compelling beauty and grace, these jewelry pieces exude René’s innovative approach to incorporating various media. Enamel elements, molded glass, and gems or pearls often combined in these pieces to become wearable works of art.

lalique jewelryImage 1: Art Nouveau Gold, Diamond, Enamel and Glass Brooch, Lalique, circa 1900
Sotheby’s, New York, New York (December 2007)
Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000
Realized Price: $217,000

Image 2: An Art Nouveau Gold, Enamel and Pearl Brooch, Rene Lalique, circa 1900
Christie’s, New York, New York (December 2013)
Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000
Realized Price: $185,000

Image 3: René Lalique (1860-1945) Pendentif “Deux Figurines”
Pierre Berge & Associes, Paris, France (September 2012)
Estimate: €20,000 – €25,000
Realized Price: €111,000

Image 4: Art Nouveau Horn and Enamel Hair Comb, Rene Lalique, circa 1900
Christie’s, New York, New York (October 2009)
Estimate: $15,000 – $20,000
Price Realized: $92,500

Image 5: An Art Nouveau Glass, Baroque Pearl, Diamond, and Enamel Pendant Necklace
Bonhams, New York, New York (October 2014)
Estimate: $15,000-$25,000
Realized Price: $87,500

Image 6: Gold necklace and bracelet by Rene Lalique, circa 1900
Artcurial, Monte Carlo, Monaco (July 2011)
Estimate: €8,000 – €10,000
Price Realized: €29,326

Lalique Vases

One of the company’s most prolific glass categories was that of vases, which showcase the sheer variety of Lalique glass style. Many of the most popular Lalique vase styles date to the 1920s – the Clématite cire perdu and Archers vases, for example, were originally created in 1920 and 1921, respectively, while the Danaides vase debuted in 1926 – and resonate with their maker’s ongoing fascination with nature and the figure. The Danaides vase, for example, features a series of beautiful, nude maidens pouring water and set against an Art Deco-inspired backdrop of water, while the Gros Scarabees pattern from 1923 depicts a web of intermeshed beetles across its surface.

lalique vases
Image 1: René Lalique 1860-1945 Bouchon de vase couvert “Deux Figurines,” 1912
Artcurial, Paris, France (May 2018)
Estimate: €20,000 – €25,000
Realized Price: €71,500

Image 2: A Unique Clématites, Feuille en Creux, Fleurs en Relief Cire Perdue Vase
Christie’s, London, UK (May 2018)
Estimate: £50,000 – £70,000
Realized Price: £56,250

Image 3: Rene Lalique, “Alicante” Vase, circa 1927
Freeman’s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (June 2018)
Estimate: $6,000 – $8,000
Price Realized: $21,250

Image 4: Molded Blue Glass Danaïdes Vase, circa 1926-47
Doyle New York, New York (March 2017)
Estimate: $1,500 – $2,500
Price Realized: $15,000

Image 5: Opalescent Glass Perruches Vase circa 1919
Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas (November 2014)
Estimate: $5,000-$7,000
Realized Price: $13,750

Image 6: Molded Glass Red Archers Vase
Doyle New York, New York (December 2016)
Estimate: $800 – $1,200
Price Realized: $2,250

Lalique Bowls

Equally captivating are Lalique bowls, which also play host to the maker’s powerful blend of organic motifs rendered with an Art Deco sensibility. The beloved Anvers bowl, for instance, from 1930 showcases a systematized motif of seaweed and fish, while his Perruche pieces features flocks of parrots in an array of natural settings. These various Lalique glass pieces were often made in both clear and frosted glass as well as in an array of colors ranging from cased jade and bright lime to cased red and amber. In general, cased-glass colors, which involved layers of glass that were bonded together to allow for deeper colors or patterned surfaces, as well as colored-glass works often sell at higher prices than their clear-glass counterparts.

lalique bowls
Image 1: Anvers, No. 408, Blue bowl, engraved “R. LALIQUE FRANCE”
Christie’s, London, UK (November 2008)
Estimate: £3,000-£4,000
Realized Price: £6,875

Image 2: R. Lalique Molded Glass Martigues Bowl Marcilhac no. 377, circa 1920-47
Doyle New York, New York (June 2015)
Estimate: $1,000 – $2,000
Price Realized: $5,938

Image 3: René Lalique (1860-1945) ‘Calypso’ Frosted and Opalescent Glass Bowl, Designed 1930
Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh, UK (April 2012)
Estimate: £1,000-£1,500
Realized Price:£2,500

Image 4: Lalique Perruches Bowl
Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates (April 2016)
Estimate: $2,000-$3,000
Realized Price: $3,200

Image 5: Lalique Molded Glass Champs Elysees Center Bowl, Modern
Doyle New York, New York (June 2016)
Estimate: $600 – $800
Price Realized: $1,625

Image 6: Lalique crystal centerpiece bowl, “Luxembourg”, mid to late 20th century
Freeman’s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (October 2014)
Estimate: $1,000 – $1,500
Price Realized: $1,500

Lalique Perfume Bottles

René Lalique was perhaps the best-known manufacturer of French perfume bottles. He was first approached in the early 1900s by perfume maker Coty to develop multiple perfume bottle designs. With a background in jewelry-making, he used a jewelry-casting process called “cire perdue” to create a jewel-like finish on his bottles. The partnership was so successful that it required the glass company to expand operations in a larger facility. Lalique perfume bottles, or atomizers, have been produced in a variety of shapes and designs.

lalique perfume bottles
Image 1: An “Ambre de Siam” Perfume Bottle and Stopper, Model Introduced 1920
Christie’s, New York, New York (June 2012)
Estimate: Unavailable
Price Realized: $27,500

Image 2: Rene Lalique Perfume Bottle
Christie’s, Paris, France (May 2007)
Estimate: € 6,000 – € 8,000
Price Realized:  € 10,800

Image 3: Three “D’Orsay” Perfume Bottles
Sotheby’s, New York, New York (March 2016)
Estimate: $1,500 – $2,000
Price Realized: $2,500

Image 4: Lalique Molded Glass Calendal Perfume Bottle and Stopper, Design created 1937
Doyle New York, New York (June 2011)
Estimate: $600 – $800
Price Realized: $2,000

Image 5: René Lalique for Coty ‘Amber Antique’ a Perfume Bottle and Stopper, design 1910
Bonhams, London, United Kingdom (November 2011)
Estimate: £1,000 – £1,500
Price Realized: £1,000

Image 6: A large ‘Dans La Nuit’ Perfume bottle and stopper, design 1924
Bonhams, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (June 2015)
Estimate: Unavailable
Price Realized: £687

Car Mascots

One of the more unique facets of his body of work was his creation of car mascots, or hood ornaments, that came into popularity following the 1925 Art Deco exhibition. These smaller scale figurines were designed to rest atop the radiator cap that featured prominent on the era’s top model cars like Bentley or Mercedes Benz. Lalique even designed a special base for some these creations so that their owners could easily detach them from their car and bring them inside for dual display.

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