We were thrilled to offer for sale this wonderful bracelet, brooch and earring suite, by René Lalique. Offered to the market for the first time, having been bought as a ‘collier de chien’, or choker, by Mrs Evelyn St George from Lalique at the beginning of the 20th century and passed down through her family since. It was shortened at some point from the original choker into a bracelet, probably because chokers went out of fashion, and the leftover components were cleverly converted into a navette-shaped brooch and a pair of earstuds.
The bracelet retains its original Lalique signature and most importantly Lalique’s inimitable style. He created a few other chokers in this trelliswork pattern between 1900-10, with varying materials and motifs. This particular suite is an outstanding combination of his jewellery design and glasswork skills. Lalique’s interest in rock crystal and architectural glass led him to artistic experiments in those media. By 1910 he had established a glass factory at Combs-la-Ville, France, and in 1918 he acquired a larger factory at Wingen-sur-Moder, France, which is now the site of the Lalique Museum. An order for perfume bottles led him to develop that style of moulded glass with which he is generally associated: it is characterized by iced surfaces, elaborate or partially realistic patterns in relief, and occasionally applied or inlaid colour. His relief decoration was produced by blowing into moulds or by pressing. His new designs shown at the Paris Exhibition, 1925, greatly enhanced his reputation. Used for luxury articles, Lalique glass was the height of fashion during the 1920s.
Mrs. Florence Evelyn St George (nee Baker), 1870- 1936 was one of the most celebrated and talked about socialites of her time. Born in New York in 1870, her father, George Fisher Baker, was the founder of the First National Bank of the City of New York and at one point the third richest man in America. At twenty-one, Evelyn married the Irish land agent Howard St George against her fathers wishes, and in 1905 the couple moved to Dublin. It was here that Evelyn’s life would take a dramatic turn when she was introduced to the artist William Orpen.
William Orpen was a celebrated Irish artist working primarily in London, most known for his Edwardian society portraits. During World War I, Orpen worked as a war artist and achieved such success in this that he was knighted in 1918. St George and Orpen began a passionate and very public affair from about 1908, which is documented in numerous paintings of her by the artist throughout the time of their affair. She became not only his muse but his patron, commissioning numerous portraits of herself and of her children, one of which allegedly was fathered by Orpen.
Visually the couple made for much gossip, as she was a foot taller and eight years older, something that Orpen did not shy away from commenting on in his humorous sketches of the couple enjoying their time together. Evelyn was a fashionable woman, wearing exotic hats and fine jewels. In fact, she took yearly visits to Paris with her brother George to purchase all the latest fashions. During these trips, she would frequent luxury jewellers of the period such as René Lalique, where she would commission unique and beautiful pieces.