The Legacy of René Lalique
The designs produced by René Lalique encompass a huge spectrum; from jewelry to perfume bottles, vases to architectural details, and more. One of the popular categories to collect is boxes.
More Than A Container
Lalique was a groundbreaking artist, designing jewelry, decorative items, and functional pieces in many mediums. His philosophy was to use the medium that gave the effect he was trying to achieve so he used material that was non-precious as well as gemstones and precious metals to create his works. A look at a catalog of Lalique boxes reveals a wide variety of choice in shape and construction, from wooden boxes with glass insets to aluminum pieces seemingly engraved with vines. Some are made of secoid (cellulose acetate), most are made of glass, and all are exquisite.
The sensuous curves of Art Nouveau fantasy and realism hardened into the geometric interpretations of Art Deco over the course of Lalique’s long career. It is not difficult to find a style to focus on for the beginning collector, but it is hard to stick to only one category of so much beauty. A single box on a well-lit table is a worthy display and a collection is breathtaking.
René Lalique believed in the concept of “total work of art” for the home. This meant that every detail in a room combined to create an complete ambiance with a single motif or theme. Many of the boxes he designed were part of sets for the dressing table or desk and a complete set is a goal for collectors.
Art Married Industry In Lalique’s World
Every Lalique design is a careful combination of two things: production and perfection. By the time Lalique built his glass factories he was filling orders of ten thousand pieces in a single design. That which could be mass produced, the basic object, was then given individual finishing, bringing decorative arts to homes on modest budgets. Everybody could have a Lalique box and many did. The beautiful textures and colors enhanced artistic design and gave the public what it wanted at a price it could afford.
The ingenuity of using a common material like glass to create a mass produced object with high standards of quality and design that pleased the eye was a new concept. The look of a handmade work of unique art within reach of public purses was a wildly popular concept and continues to be today.
Lalique Boxes Today
Museums regularly have displays of Lalique’s work. The Corning Museum Of Glass in Corning, NY will be hosting an exhibit titled, “René Lalique: Enchanted by Glass” from May 17, 2014 until January 4, 2015 drawing on its extensive collection of his work. There will be boxes included in the display.
These everyday containers are useful and often show the patina of that use. Sometimes one can see a repair where a chip was filed to make room for a spoon handle so the box could become a sugar bowl and continue to give pleasure to the eye. Many collectors use their treasured boxes as Lalique originally intended; everyday beauty for the home.
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/24.145.3ab, http://www.cmog.org/press-release/lalique, http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/biographies/MainBiographies/L/Lalique/Lalique.htm, http://www.cmog.org/collection/exhibitions/lalique