René Lalique


René Lalique’s world fame was initially based on his goldsmith’s work, which was dominated not by diamonds but by effectively placed semi-precious stones. After his sensational success at the World’s Fair in 1900, he also turned to designing glass works, while at the same time he returned to lighting objects, a field in which he had already made notable achievements in the late 1990s.

After casting glass using the “cire-perdue” process (lost wax mold) in Clairefontaine near Rambouillet around 1902, he founded a glass casting workshop in Combs. Between 1918 and 1922 he moved to Wingen-sur-Moder in Alsace; this factory is still in operation today.

Lalique used plaster molds for his glass castings. The tonal values in the glass resulted from the different thicknesses of the material. Sometimes the surface effect of the cast glass was altered by cutting and polishing or by partial acid etching to achieve decorative effects. The spectrum of his glass work seemed unlimited. Judging by the designs carried out, it ranges from dinner services to monumental glass architecture. Compared to Lalique’s production scale, lamps only take up a small amount of space. However, they are significant, particularly, because of the extraordinary effects of their illuminated glass

It is not possible to determine exactly when Lalique began designing lamps, but it appears to have been much earlier than previously thought, probably while he was still working as a goldsmith. In 1905, the magazine L’Art Décoratif published a picture of a large chandelier consisting of a bronze frame with lizards in relief, into which the glass shade had been blown. Also in 1905, the magazine >Art et Décoration< published a monumental chandelier made of bronze and engraved, enameled crystal glass. Large dragonflies, arranged in a circle around the frames, are reminiscent of Lalique’s excellent dragonfly necklaces in their precious execution. A year later, the same magazine featured a picture of a lamp with twelve bronze chameleons: six clasping the glass shade, while the other six form the lamp suspension, arranged as if they were about to jump down.

These lamp designs obviously belong to Lalique’s Art Nouveau phase with its preference for insects and reptiles and represent a purely experimental stage. Only after 1918, when his glass factory in Wingen-sur-Moder was operational, did he produce glass lamps in a large variety and in large quantities. The program included small night lamps, table lamps, chandeliers, appliques, illuminated statuettes – such as the famous “Susanne in the Bathroom” – and illuminated glass tables. For architectural lighting, Lalique designed glass panels for ceilings, wall panels, friezes and illuminated glass fountains. He also created numerous hood ornaments; The most famous was Spirit of the Wind, now a sought-after object. The hood ornaments, inspired by bird shapes, could often be illuminated in color from below.

Together with his glass products, Lalique exhibited his lamps and lighting objects on numerous occasions, such as annually in the salons, at the International Exhibition of 1925 and at the Salon du Luminaire in 1934. Lalique was one of the most talented designers in this profession and was already at that time in contemporary Journalen is often celebrated as a “magician of light” and a “genius lighting artist”.

Source: Alastair Duncan, Lampen Lüster Leuchter, Jugendstil Art Déco, Prestel-Verlag, München 1979, p. 176-177.

Rene Lalique Vase signiert
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