Lalique Hair Combs and Tiaras

Victorian diamond brooches came with different settings, so they could be worn separately or together as a tiara. Art Nouveau brooches could also serve multiple purposes. Indeed, some were designed as a tiara and ended up as a brooch. Such is the case with this bee-and-flower ornament designed by Rene Lalique in 1905/6. A pencil-and-ink watercolor on paper of a tiara topped with this ornament resides in the Lalique Museum Collection in Paris.

barbaraanneshaircombblog-laliquedrawingofbeesandflowerstiara19051906
Yvonne Brunnhammer, “The Jewels of Lalique,” p. 195

However, during the design process, Lalique might have changed his mind. When the piece was finished, it was fitted to be a brooch or corsage ornament. Lalique used gold, translucent enamel on gold, cast glass, and brilliant-cut diamonds. He created part of a tree, where the branches attach to the center. The piece resides in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, and is also dated 1905/6.

beesandflowerscorsageornament

Like the Japanese, Lalique embraced the insignificance of human beings in nature, giving animals, insects, plants, and trees more importance. His Symbolic designs stretched bare tree trunks to create a wooded network for the stories he was trying to tell. The wooded lake at Clairefontaine inspired this study for a comb. Tree trunks border a watery landscape. A leafy mass provides shade. The plants are detailed. There is depth of field, and branches reflect on the water.

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Yvonne Brunnhammer, The Jewels of Lalique, page 154

His “Tree Branches” comb was made from carved horn with a patina, c. 1900/1.

barbaraanneshaircombblog1-lalique-tree-branches-comb-1900-clairlafontaine
Yvonne Brunnhammer, The Jewels of Lalique, page 155

Indeed, one can see a Japanese influence when viewing this gold-painted tortoiseshell comb with leaves and berries of black lacquer from the Edo era.

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blog: Japonisme, by Lotus Green

In an article, “The Insect in Decoration,” by P. Verneuil in The Craftsman magazine, c. 1903/4, Lalique contributed a comb study of grasshoppers. Verneuil notes how artists had fallen for dragonflies, butterflies, and grasshoppers because of their unique shapes, and reflective wings and eyes, which had a “magical rainbow effect.”

laliquegrasshoppercomb

When Lalique made the comb, c. 1902/4, he used carved and painted horn, as well as three triangular green tourmalines.

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Yvonne Brunnhammer, The Jewels of Lalique, page 85

Whether he used cast-glass, enamel, jewels, or carved and painted horn, Lalique made these materials do new and different things. His jewelry was a watercolor of mirrored surfaces, reflecting plants and insects, and philosophically reflecting man’s negligible imprint on nature.

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For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and these books:


The Jewels of Lalique

Rene Lalique: Exceptional Jewellery, 1890-1912

The Comb: Its History and Development

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