Rene Lalique (1860-1945) was a French Art Nouveau and later Art Deco glassmaker and jeweler. Born in the region of Champagne, France, he grew up in Paris. Lalique studied art at the College Turgot and was later apprenticed to a master jeweler at the age of sixteen. He studied further at Syndeham Art College in London and developed his skills in naturalistic depiction. After his return to Paris, he received commissions from the great jewelry firms of that era: Cartier, Aucoc, Boucheron, Cartier, Destape, Gariod, Hamelin, and Jacta. By 1885, he had his own workshop in Paris.
Lalique's reputation grew gradually as he was increasingly recognized by art critics as an emerging master craftsman, and Art Nouveau rose in prominence. At the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition, his work was debuted to the entire world, and Lalique's name became famous. He applied glass to different settings, creating the marketing concept of selling perfume in ornate bottles instead of ordinary and designing elaborate glass interiors for luxury trains and ocean liners. In 1925 he designed the pavilion for the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes -- the exhibition that coined the term "Art Deco". Lalique continued to produce countless works right up until the closure of his shop after the Fall of France in 1940. He died two days before the end of World War II.
Centerpiece (Silver and glass, 1903-1905, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian). A delicately-crafted nymph emerges from a lily pond in this mytho-pastoral scene.
Pansy Brooch (glass, gold, enamel & sapphire, 1902-1904, at the Walters Art Museum). This gossamer masterpiece is representative of Lalique's frequent floral theme.
Hairpin (horn, gold, diamonds, 1902-1903, at the Rijksmuseum). Many of Lalique's works seem to brazenly defy the laws of tensile strength and gravity.