Rene Lalique (1860-1945) began his career as an apprentice to Louis Aucoc (1850-1932), an established Parisian jeweller who also produced a remarkable body of Art Nouveau designs. During this time Lalique also studied at the Ecole d’art Decoratifs in Paris. After his apprenticeship Lalique moved to London to continue his art school training for two years. His time spent studying in England during the Arts and Crafts movement left a life long mark. Lalique’s consistent use of nature in his work is a legacy from the Arts and Crafts emphasis on the organic in contrast to the industrially manufactured.
Jewellery Maker Profile: René Lalique
Revolutionising Art Nouveau
In 1885 Lalique established his first workshop on Place Gaillon, Paris. Only two years later he moved to Rue du Quatre-Septembre.
By1888 Rene Lalique registered his own stamp, ‘RL’, to be engraved on each of his designs. In this year he made his first parure. The set was revolutionary in its use of Art Nouveau values. The finely wrought gold-work was inspired by the stylised ornamentation of antiquity and Japanese prints. The emphasis was on the design rather than precious materials set into the metalwork.
Lalique’s unorthodox approach to jewellery making was attracting attention in the Parisian jewellery trade. The famed actress Sarah Bernhardt commissioned Lalique with a challenge to “create something never seen before”. For this challenge he created lavish floral head pieces. Bernhardt is photographed wearing a monumental crown designed by Lalique in her role as Melissinde in Edmond Rostand’s play ‘La Princesse Lointaine’ in 1895.
Inventor of Modern jewellery
Lalique has been hailed as ‘The Inventor of Modern jewellery’. His display at the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition was sensational and later that same year he was awarded the French Legion d’Honneur for his revolutionary work.
In 1912 Lalique held his last jewellery show. Lalique’s creative attention would shift away from jewellery to focus on glass, opening his first glass factory in Combe-la-Ville near paris in 1909. By 1929 Lalique was commissioned to decorate the Côte d’Azur Pullman Express carriages. Lalique also made an important partnership with the Parfumerie, Francoise Coty. The partnership resulted in a revolution in the design of glass fragrance bottles.
L’Odyssee du fem Sacre
In 1977 his daughter, Marie-Claude became the company’s CEO and renewed the companies jewellery output. In 1012, under the management of the Swiss Art & Fragrance Group under Silvio Denz. In 2012 the company launched the rebirth of its jewellery making with ‘L’Odyssee du fem Sacre’ collection incorporating elements of Lalique’s glassware and Art Nouveau origins.
Lalique is famed for his successful breakdown of traditional expectations of Fine Jewellery and the decorative arts. His use of unorthodox materials is a testament to his revolutionary approach. Lalique favoured the use of carved bone, ivory and enamel as the primary features within his jewellery over large precious stones.
Lalique’s interest in glass and crystal can be seen in his used enamel experimentally to create ethereal colour combinations. His use of light materials and feather imagery reflect his preoccupation with the lightness of glass and it’s air-like quality.
In 2011 the Musee Lalique opened in the village (Wingen-Sur-Moder) Lalique opened his glass works in 1921.