Glass items by René Lalique (1860-1945) – the epitome of inter-war period glamour – take centre stage at auctioneer Lyon & Turnbull on April 29th 2021. The firm’s first dedicated Lalique sale, curated by former Christie’s specialist Joy McCall, will be held at the Mall Galleries, London.
The 107 lots, with an estimate range from £300-400 to £12,000-18,000, are all vintage pieces by the venerable luxury brand. Of these the first 57 pieces are from a private European collection. Largely composed of vases, it includes examples of some of the most famous Lalique creations – the clear, frosted and grey stained Serpent vase, designed in 1924 and numbered 896 in the René Lalique catalogue raisonne (£12,000-18,000) and the Escargot vase (No. 931), designed 1920 and here in electric blue (estimate £10,000-15,000).
See also: Works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Archibald Knox Feature in Lyon & Turnbull’s Design Auction
The appeal of vibrantly coloured or opalescent glass helps explain why two apparently similar items can be priced quite differently. An impressive selection of cobalt blue vases includes the front cover lot, a Tuileries pattern vase (No. 1053) with its foot of repeating sparrows designed in 1930 expected to bring £8,000-12,000.
No collection of Lalique vases would be complete without the budgerigar Ceylan vase (No. 905) designed in 1924 (seen top of page). The example here, estimated at £6000-8000 is exceptional. “It is simply best Ceylan vase I have ever seen because of the depth of the opalescence and the subtlety of the green staining” says Joy McCall. “It’s superb – right down to the long tails of the birds that were very often polished down during production. This is probably my take-home lot.”
Figural subjects are among the most popular Lalique designs. The wonderfully Art Deco vase Terpsichore (No. 10-911) modelled with pairs of naked women holding aloft the swags of a curtain, and the Pan vase (No. 10-904) formed as a set of panpipes with vignettes of the Greek god are both relatively late designs from 1937 made in clear and frosted glass. Both are rarities – the latter in particular rarely appearing on the market. “It is only the second I have offered in 25 years of handling Lalique” says Joy. They are guided at £8000-12,000 and £2500-3000 respectively.
One of the earliest works is the frosted and sepia stained Quatre Masques (No. 878) dating from 1911.
For René Lalique, glass making represented a second career (he had already proved himself a superb artist jeweller). However, as the fashion for Art Nouveau peaked, Lalique changed medium and began to produce bespoke glass bottles for near neighbour François Coty – some of the very first experiments in commercial perfume bottle manufacture (previously scent was acquired in phials from the pharmacy).
Made two years before mass production of Lalique glass began (first from a factory at Combs-La-Ville in south east of Paris and then from 1921 at Wingen-Sur-Moder in the glass-making region of Alsace), this Quatre Masques is a rarity and guided at £10,000-15,000.
Examples of Lalique perfume bottles from the same era are also included in the sale. A Côtes Bouchon Papillon bottle, No. 477, designed 1911, is guided at £1200-1800.
From perfume packaging to light fittings there are many categories of Lalique to collect. A distinct market subset are the series of 31 car mascots or hood ornaments (bouchons de radiator) produced in the six years between 1925, the year of the landmark Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, and the grip of economic depression in 1931. With the aid of a metal mount and electric light, these could be fitted to the radiators of a luxury sports car.
These have obvious cross-over collecting appeal to car enthusiasts who add significantly to the collecting base. Among the most famous is the Victoire mascot (No. 1147) designed in 1928 as the screaming head of Victory with a shock of stylised hair. The clear and frosted example offered here, with later ebonised mount, is expected to bring £8,000-12,000.
Ever since the secondary market for Art Nouveau and Art Deco furnishings first took off in the Swinging Sixties, Lalique has enjoyed a special place in the hearts of collectors. Designated Lalique sales have been a fixture in London for many years, with that baton now picked up by Lyon & Turnbull.
Link to auction catalogue here.
Lalique 29th APRIL 2021 | LIVE ONLINE at 2PM Auction Live Online | Exhibition at The Mall Galleries, London