René Lalique was born in France in 1860. He trained as a silversmith but, at an early age, discovered a talent and passion for sculpture and jewellery design in many other materials. Lalique was a major force in the art nouveau movement, introducing novel themes and materials into his work. These included the use of horn, amber, mother-of-pearl,, ivory and glass in combination with rare gems to produce works often modelled on maidens or grotesque, half animal, half human creatures.
As well as jewellery, Lalique produced furniture, painting and frescoes but, from about 1890, he became increasingly interested in glass. After about 1910, he gave up jewellery to concentrate on working in glass. Lalique’s early glass works, made between about 1903 and 1913, were made “circe perdue” (that is, the mould was broken to retrieve the glass). These works are rare and extremely valuable.
In 1908, Lalique produced his first commercial glass – a range of perfume bottles for Coty. During the 1920s, Lalique’s factory produced perfume bottles, vases, glasses, tableware, lamps, car mascots and other items in large quantities.
Lalique’s glass contains a high proportion of lead oxide, which makes it heavy with a soft sheen. It is mostly finished with a smooth, satin surface, either clear or opalescent but rarely coloured. Its style progressed from the art nouveau through the art deco.
Lalique’s factory closed in 1937. After Rene died in 1945, his son Marc took over the company . Early pieces are “R, Lalique” or “R. Lalique, France”; after 1945, they are marked “Lalique, France” (with no R).
In the past two decades the Lalique company has had three different owners. The current owner is Art & Fragrance, a Swiss company headed by the perfume magnate Silvio Denz. Lalique crystal objects are developed entirely in-house and manufactured at the factory in Wingen-sur-Moder, France.