Category Archives: French Hair Comb

Lalique’s Sea Holly Comb

Decay is sensual in itself. The Mediterranean Sea Holly’s cone flower turns brown in the fall, and its silvery blue bracts cannot hold water anymore. In a flower’s life cycle, death comes without tears.

With a Japanese inner eye, Lalique must have noticed the sea hollies in a garden one day, as their decaying colors stood out. When he got home, he opened his drawing book. “Part yellow, chiseled gold, chiseled green-silver parts, violet parts sculpted in the horn, and patinated silver — blue parts — blue sapphire glass cabochons,” he wrote.

In French Symbolism, clarity is ephemeral, but the important thing is that the artist had a vision at all. Lalique saved his vision on a comb.

It is a curvilinear mirror image of two gold cone flowers with patinated silver stems and leaves. These plants frame the top of a large sapphire-colored glass cabochon. The lighter oxidized silver leaves in the middle, whose gold veins show they are not getting water, are part of a second plant. Although they frame the bottom of the cabochon, the second plant continues in delicately carved horn on the bottom of the comb, with the stems doubling as the comb’s outside tines.

The signature of a hand-made Lalique piece is also correct.

I did not see any silver-green or violet in this comb. Perhaps when he started working, he decided to keep those ideas in his drawing book. However, Lalique’s engineering genius is in full force here, because the silvery blue color on the leaves is achieved through the reflected light from the sapphire-colored glass cabochons.

That was his original idea, and along with all the other elements of this comb, it sold at auction on 6 June 2015 for $205,000.

The Hair Comb Market

There are so many beautiful things for sale, each with their own story, that to condense a post into one subject is difficult. So I have a buffet of things today. Just click the picture or link to see more details about each item. In the Sotheby’s Unsold category: On 6 December 2002, this Henri…Continue Reading

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…Continue Reading

Auguste Bonaz at the Creative Museum

The Creative Museum just acquired another masterpiece by Auguste Bonaz. Made c. 1920 in Oyonnax, five medallions of painted leaves and rhinestones rest in the middle of a curved frame. The medallions are held in place by vertical lines. I thought this might be a good opportunity to peruse some of the Creative Museum’s other…Continue Reading

Alexandre de Paris Spring Collection, 2014

Spring is full of flowers, butterflies, Japanese fans, and a bird of paradise at Alexandre de Paris. The pieces mix layers of clear acetate with solid forms in different colors, decorated with rhinestones. Online, you see mostly black. In the stores, the limited-edition pieces are available in beige and pink. The most complex and magnificent…Continue Reading

The Frances Wright Collection

Many women practice their art secretly. Emily Dickinson had fewer than 12 poems published in her lifetime until her sister Lavinia discovered 1800 of them in a locked chest after she died. Jane Austen was first published anonymously. Collecting is also an art. To do it well, you must have an encyclopedic knowledge of the…Continue Reading

Auctions at Drouot: Art Nouveau Locusts — SOLD, for 141,000 euros

They jumped into history with no name. The auction curators at Drouot had no idea who made these realistic plique-a-jour enamel locusts with diamond lines, set in gold, so they estimated their value at 6500 euros. In the description, Drouot wondered if the locusts were destined to adorn a hairstyle or ornament a corsage. Even…Continue Reading

Lluís Masriera and Modernisme in Catalonia

Art Nouveau’s main ingredients were the Symbolists, who believed that art should reflect the truth indirectly as if in a dream; the flat perspective and strong colors of Japanese wood block prints; and Japanese organic forms and representations of nature. Out came the curvilinear forms of Art Nouveau, which lasted only 20 years (1890-1910). In…Continue Reading