Category Archives: Lalique

A René Lalique Hair Comb: The Visible and the Invisible

In 1900, enchanted observers marveled at how light played with color, as it reflected off leaves or the wings of a dragonfly.

However, unlike moths, dragonflies don’t navigate by the light of the moon. Instead, they use sunlight’s energy on their wings to fly. Dragonflies swarm with predatory precision, catching mosquitos with their feet. Indeed, one dragonfly can eat from 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day. If they can’t fly, they’ll starve. Lalique knew this and would not transform voracious killer-gangs into angelic creatures. He created swarms.

In this famous tiara, c. 1900, it looks as if the dragonflies are pursuing light, a faceted aquamarine, because they are all going in the same direction. This is not the case. Lalique was trying to show how beams of “sunlight” from the aquamarine shined down on the dragonflies’ wings to give them energy. Look at how the wings change color, and draw diagonal lines from the aquamarine to the plique-a-jour enamel.

Just as the tiara had fittings that allowed it to be worn as a brooch, so this hair comb had a chain fitting so it could be worn as a necklace. Also made c. 1900, it sold at Sotheby’s on 18 May 2018 for $262,269. In this comb, six dragonflies in a swarm go in three different directions instead of just one. The light source: a citrine. Again, look at how the light source changes the color of the wings.

French Art Nouveau was a combination of the Japanese aesthetic, where perspective was executed precisely, and French Symbolism, which elongated things to express a poetic idea. However, in both this tiara and hair comb, the insects are not stretched to make you think differently about them. So where is the French Symbolism? The elongation lies in the beams of light emanating from the jewel.

By seeing what is visible, Lalique is making you see what is invisible. These pieces portray the energy field of light, which gives flight to a dragonfly. To understand them, you must look at them with two different sets of eyes.

कंघी

References:


The Jewels of Lalique

Okazaki Collection:
Combs and Ornamental Hairpins

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu

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

Lalique Tiaras: From God to a Rooster’s Breakfast

The setting of gems is profound meditation. How can a tiara or crown give its wearer the verisimilitude of God on Earth? Rene Lalique couldn’t care less. He transformed the appearance of jewelry with new themes. Combining French Symbolist philosophy with ideas from Japanese art, he incorporated gem setting into raptors’ claws in this comb,…Continue Reading

Rene Lalique and Calouste Gulbenkian

They were friends for 50 years. Perhaps that’s why Gulbenkian (right) obtained diplomatic immunity and became the Iranian ambassador to Pétain’s Vichy government in 1939. On October 30, 1939, 79-year-old René Lalique rushed to his factory in Wingen, Alcase. The glass-making fires were out. He tried to save his priceless glass molds, but the German…Continue Reading

Fake Lalique: Real Lalique

This article on Google documents fake Lalique auctions on E-bay. Beginning collectors, please remember: Lalique, LC Tiffany, Faberge and other great jewelers transformed jewelry with ideas: metamorphosis, symbolism, nature, modernism — the same ideas, which were inspiring Rodin, Redon, Rimbaud, and artists all across the Western World. Japonisme came from welding Edo Japanese art and…Continue Reading

Brooch / Hairpin at the Musée Lalique

Different fittings can attach to many extraordinary pieces of jewelry. For example, a brooch could become a hair ornament, quite easily. Lalique made this corsage into a breathtaking fairy tale of 18K gold, diamond leaves, mother-of-pearl flowers, and green enamel. It is on display at the Musée Lalique, located on the Rue du Hochberg in…Continue Reading

René Lalique and Philippe Wolfers

Lalique introduced horn into the jewelry repertoire. In this tiara, c. 1902, the iridescent horn has different hues, lighter in the center, darker on the sides. The flowers have diamond centers. A gold hinge attaches the tiara to a three-pronged tortoiseshell comb. Lalique uses a curved horn base to showcase flowers cast in glass with…Continue Reading