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Monday, August 4, 2008

Rene Lalique - The Best Designer of the 20th Century

Yesterday, in the UK Mirror, there was a story of older woman who was in need of an operation and was trying to find money to finance the procedure. According to the story, the woman went into her attic and started rummaging around for things to sell when she came upon a brooch. At first, she dismissed her find because she thought it had no value, but after more searching, gave up hope and decided to have it's worth determined.

To her surprise, the brooch, which was in the Art Nouveau style, turned out to have been made by Rene Lalique and was worth close to $14,000 in pre-auction estimates. At auction, Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury, Wilts, it sold for more than $100,000. What is interesting is that I have always associated the name Lalique with glass design and never thought about him as a jewelry designer.

As it turns out, the celebrated designer, Rene Lalique, did indeed produce and design some of the most spectacular glass creations of his time but he also designed jewelry, chandeliers, clocks and even hood ornaments. Born in France in 1860, Lalique was an apprentice to Louis Aucoc by the age of 16 and later worked for the prestigious jewelry house, Cartier. In 1886, he opened his own shop and is renowned as one the top Art Nouveau jewelry designers and later for the Art Deco style.

I have never seen a piece of Lalique jewelry and if I did I would probably not know it from any other jeweler or designer in the world. However, I am most familiar with his amazing glass creations and can say that Lalique designed some of the most creative and inspired pieces that I have ever seen. If Lalique put as much enthusiasm and imagination into his jewelry design as he did in his glass creations, I can understand why people are fanatic about the result. Rene Lalique, who was the best designer of the 20th Century, died in 1945.

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