Having already acquired vases and bowls by René Lalique over a number of years, the owner of this collection started researching the works and was captivated by the scent bottles illustrated in the reference books. He saw the bottles are miniature works of art. Indeed, they truly are small masterpieces both in terms of aesthetic beauty and in the quality of execution. The most detailed designs held the greatest appeal, while the rarest and hardest to find designs presented an avid collector with the compelling challenge of discovering. Trying to determine where they might be ‘hidden’ was an enthralling pursuit. This collection was formed as the result of both passion and ‘the thrill of the chase.’
It was in the last decade of the 19th century and first decade of the 20th century that Lalique turned his attention from jewellery making and began experimenting with glass. Glass became the creative focus for the remainder of his life. By 1907 he was designing Art Nouveau labels for the perfumier François Coty, his neighbour on the place Vendôme in Paris. The entrepreneurial Coty believed that business success lay in presenting perfume in beautiful package, and in selling it at an affordable price. While Lalique’s ambition was to create exquisite glass using industrial methods. What ensued from these two complementary visions combining was a revolution in the sale and presentation of perfume. A landmark moment occurred when Lalique designed the Cyclamen bottle for Coty in 1909. It was the first commercial bottle he designed in its entirety (an example is offered as lot 13). Since 1909, the perfume industry has invested heavily in bespoke presentations to market fragrance.
Lalique designed further bottles for Coty, and extended his creativity by assisting other perfumiers, fashion houses and department stores. The combined number of these various clients exceeded 60 and besides these, Lalique also produced bottles for his own brand, commonly referred to as Maison Lalique works.
Within this collection there are many treasures. There are a staggering 11 bottles with tiara-form stoppers, and items produced in only limited editions such as the 200 egg-form bottle, produced for Worth, for Easter 1928 (lot 92) and the Trèsor de la Mer presentation (lot 150) for Saks department store, which numbered 100. There are also bottles like the Roses bottle (lot 116) that were so technically challenging to make that very few exist and the complex Althea bottle (lot 91), which is so rare that it is questionable whether it was ever put into full production. Great delight has been had in gathering and living with these bottles, but the time had come for the collection to be dispersed and for others to have the opportunity of being custodians of these miniature works of art in the sale which took place in February of 2022.
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.