Founded in 1888 by René Lalique, Lalique epitomises eternal elegance, the ultimate symbol of French luxury. The design of its iconic perfume bottles, jewellery, hood ornaments, vases and more has retained its popularity over centuries and, as exciting rare and exciting vintage private collections come to the marketplace, there has never been a better time to buy Lalique at auction. Browse our Lalique Buyers' Guide below.
Senior auction specialist Joy McCall has over 25 years of experience in Design and Decorative Arts, with a particular passion for selling Lalique. She shares her most frequently asked questions from Lalique auction buyers and shares top tips on how you can be sure any Lalique you purchase is authentic.
Lalique is a luxury brand established by the designer René Lalique (1860-1945), who had a visionary imagination, was constantly creative and was fastidious about high quality. Lalique’s first career, as a jewellery designer, was primarily in the 19th Century and led to his being recognised as one of the greatest Art Nouveau designers. His second career as a glass-maker was mainly in the 20th Century and for which he is now regarded as a leading Art Deco designer. Lalique understood fashion and changed with the times, ensuring that he kept in step with the market. He was continually experimenting and sought to realise the full potential of materials. His glass factory in Wingen-sur-Moder in the east of France is still producing works today.
Lalique was a lover of nature, all his work relates to nature in some way and as a result, his works have a timeless appeal. Figures were a favourite subject and in particular the female form. Animals, birds, insects and fish are also recurring themes in his work as are flowers, foliage and fruit.
The range of objects Lalique designed is extensive and includes lights, vases, bowls, plates, decanters and glasses, car mascots, scent bottles, jewellery and statuettes, so a particular form might appeal. Other collectors opt for items of a certain scale, and even the most spatially challenged collector is likely to be able to accommodate jewellery, seals or cendriers. Colour can also be a determinative factor in the direction a collection takes. For example, there are collections of opalescent glass, while others are focussed on a specific design and acquiring an example in every possible colour-way. Collecting can happen with differing budgets too as estimates generally range from £500 to £50,000.
One contributory factor may be the age of the piece. Works created during René Lalique’s lifetime usually fetch higher sums than similar examples executed after his death in 1945. Also, different colour-ways may alter the values. For example, a clear and frosted work may not make as much as one with applied surface staining or enamelling, while coloured glass pieces generally tend to be more expensive still. Another key issue is condition.
The issue of authenticity is a real one as fakes exist - so be aware! Pieces by Lalique are usually signed, however, marks too can be faked, so don’t just rely on them. Should you have any doubt, check the credentials and reputation of the person you are approaching first.
As condition impacts value, it is important to be aware of potential issues such as cracks, chips, scuffing and restoration. Sometimes attempts are made to disguise damage by polishing, re-shaping and cutting down pieces, or even by replacing elements like necks, bases and stoppers. Of course, if a particular item is especially rare or even unique, then condition matters less simply, because you will not find another easily, or indeed at all. At Lyon & Turnbull, we photograph and describe each item in great detail. You may also request a condition report which will describe any and all aspects of the item's condition.
Generally, items made in René Lalique’s lifetime are marked R. Lalique, although of course there are exceptions to this, most notably on early works. After his death in 1945, the marking changed to just Lalique and sometimes with an 'R' in a circle. Marks may be engraved, wheel-engraved, stencilled, moulded or intaglio. It is crucial to be aware that marks can be removed or replaced. Relying on the mark is not enough and the piece must be judged on all its merits. The catalogue raisonné of René Lalique’s work by Felix Marcilhac can be a helpful point of reference for dating glass works as it lists the date a design was created. The most recent edition was published in 2011.
Cire perdue is an ancient technique more commonly used for casting bronzes, but one which can also be used in making glass. A wax model is covered in plaster and then heated so that the wax can then be poured off and replaced by molten glass. The mould can then be removed. Cire perdue works are characterised by an absence of mould lines and are unpolished so the surface appears slightly irregular and more opaque.
The Lalique market is a long established one. It started with René Lalique himself creating a huge and diverse range of items over a 40 year period. He was a superb salesman and sold his own designs to an extensive international audience, which has resulted in a global legacy of appreciation for his work.
A new passion for Design emerged in the late 1960s, and from the early 1970s Lalique’s work has been offered in specialist auctions. A strong collector base developed for Lalique’s designs that led to dedicated Lalique auctions being held in London. Joy McCall has been involved with Lalique sales since the start of her career in 1996 and consequently has acquired years of expert knowledge.
Lyon & Turnbull is the only auction house to offer truly stand-alone specialist Lalique sales. The catalogue offers descriptions and images of each object, so you can be confident knowing all about each lot. The items can be viewed in person prior to the auction and if this is not possible multiple images are usually available online. Besides this, condition reports are available upon request outlining any issues with a work and sometimes even providing an indication of rarity. Finally, if there are any questions remaining, then ask. We are happy to assist.
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Lyon & Turnbull’s Design Department is delighted to have introduced Lalique as a new biannual sale category in April 2021. No other auction house offers specialist sales devoted entirely to the work of René Lalique.
Senior Specialist, Joy McCall heads these sales as she previously did at Christie’s, London for many years. She has over 25 years of experience selling Lalique and brings to the process her knowledge and expertise together with a personal passion for the subject.
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