Art Nouveau was a movement in the visual arts which was popular from the early 1890’s up to the first world war. It is viewed by some as the first self conscious attempt to create a modern style.
A leading name in the field of Art Nouveau design was glass designer Rene Lalique. Born in France in 1860. He designed pieces of jewellery for French jewellers Cartier, Boucheron, Samuel Bing and others.
In 1885 he started a jewellery and glass business of his own.
His work embraced romanticism, naturalism and femininity, creating emotive pieces of great harmony and beauty. Rene Lalique’s innovations in design and processes have made him the most celebrated of Art Nouveau Jewellers.
The inspirations, drawn from nature, flora, fauna and contemporary art such as the work of Gustav Klimt, bring diverse imagery, this combined with use of materials such as glass and horn bring a fresh approach to European Adornment.
Lalique’s adaptation of special techniques in his jewel making presents a very high technical level of processes. His open backed plique – a – jour ( open – to – light ) enamel is a great example of this technical achievement.
His brooches and combs attracted great attention at the Paris International show in 1900, which established his jewellery designs as a firm favourite. His favourite motifs within designs were women, represented with sensuous hair and diaphanous drapery. Animals, especially snakes and insects were also firm favourites.
Reacting against machine production, he created jewels of elegant and fantastic design.
Lalique secured the patronage of actress Sarah Bernhardt. Sarah was famed for amassing a substantial jewellery collection, she is widely regarded as having an important influence on the jewellery of the period.
A record of 696,750 euros was realised in 2013 at Sotheby’s auction in Paris for a Lalique pocket watch named Butterfly and bats.
Lalique died in 1945 his designs however endure.
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