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Rene Lalique (French, 1860-1945)

René Lalique (1860-1945) is a French master jeweler who is best known for creating luxury glassware items that helped define the aesthetics of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. Lalique is also credited as one of the artists who invented bijouterie, the jewelry technique of mixing semiprecious stones with non-precious materials like glass, enamel and horn. Lalique’s glasswork initially became famous when he crafted a variety of elegant perfume bottles for France’s master perfumer François Coty; Lalique later produced numerous collectable and covetable glass vases.

As a child growing up in Ay, France, Lalique showed an early propensity for drawing, which he studied beginning at age 12 at the Collège Turgot. In 1876 he became an apprentice to jeweler Louis Aucoc and formally learned how to become a master jeweler as well as a goldsmith. He also studied for 2 years at the Crystal Palace School of Art in Sydenham, London.

The pinnacle of Lalique’s career as a master glass craftsman is considered to be the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Moderns in Paris, which defined the Art Deco style. Highlights of this style included bold colors, images of nature and romanticized human figures. In addition to having his own pavilion at the Exposition, Lalique installed a 40 foot glass fountain that was seen by most of the 16 million visitors who attended the 1925 event.

Lalique’s works are on display in approximately 3 dozen international museums, including the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, which possesses the largest publicly displayed collection of Lalique glass in the world. The Musee Lalique in Wingen-sur-Moder, France is the main museum dedicated to Lalique in his homeland and contains 1,500 pieces. This village was the site of Lalique’s glass factory.

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