Recent Acquisitions: Works in Glass by of René Lalique

Inkwell (Biches) (Deer), about 1913. René Lalique (French, 1860–1945). Clear glass with brown patina; base: 15 x 15 cm. Sundry Art-Decorative Arts Fund 2011.119

The museum recently acquired eight glass works of René Lalique produced at the start of the 20th century. Considered to be among the earliest of Lalique’s glass designs, the group includes a Decanter (Carafe Sirènes et Grenouilles) from 1917; Architectural Panels (Panneaux cintré Deux Pigeons) from 1914; an Inkwell (Encrier Biches) from about 1913; and a Group of Tableware (Verres et Gobelets Chasse, Chiens) designed between 1913–21. These remarkable objects exhibit Lalique’s characteristic use of cast glass and method of color application to evoke an ethereal effect. His manipulation of the medium is considered both unexpected and innovative compared to the brilliant cut glass of the period.

Panneaux Cintré Deux Pigeons, about 1914. René Lalique (French, 1860–1945). Molded glass with mirrored backplate; 27.7 x 20.7 x 2.5 cm. Sundry Art-Decorative Arts Fund 2011.120.a&b

This group of work by Lalique represents a major design statement during the advent of modernism in Europe in the 1910s, and as early works in glass of the most celebrated jeweler of his age, they link Lalique with his Arts and Crafts past while propelling his career into the new century. Lalique’s use of animal motifs, particularly deer, parakeets, dogs, and frogs reference the Arts and Crafts (1860–1910) and Art Nouveau (1890–1910) movements. Lalique studied in England during his formative years and carried an appreciation for English Arts and Crafts design throughout his body of work. The inkwell (Encrier Biches), in particular, is a direct reference to the work of English artist John Henry Dearle, who cre!

ated tapestry designs incorporating flora and fauna motifs for William Morris.

This new acquisition enhances the museum’s collection of Lalique glass in recognizable ways, adding depth in new forms and color-ways to the permanent collection. Important examples of Lalique’s early tableware have been a particular priority in developing the museum’s collection, because works in glass for the table became the most recognizable form of production in the artisan’s late career. These works also relate to the Lalique masterpiece acquired by the museum in 2007, the Frogs and Lily-pads Vase (Grenouilles et Nenouphars) of 1911. “The great frogs and lily-pads vase, with its palate of muted colors in cast glass, was an experimental piece, and it laid the foundation for subsequent innovative works by Lalique such as these to be acquired by the museum,” said Stephen Harrison, curator of decorative art and design. “This group of glass tableware echoes the color palate found in the vase but depart from the vase in style and composition adding to the rich examples from Lalique’s oeuvre found in the museum’s permanent collection.”

Most of these works were featured loans to the Cleveland Museum of Art exhibition, Artistic Luxury: Faberge, Tiffany, Lalique, in 2008 and will be displayed in the permanent collection galleries within the cases dedicated to decorative arts from 1900 to 1945 in subsequent installations.


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