René Lalique’s car mascots wonderfully embody the golden age of the motor car – a period of time when travel was all about luxury, glamour and elegance. In the aftermath of the First World War, travel was symbolic of fresh hope and optimism for the future, as well as a celebration of new-found leisure and tourism. Whilst mascots made no functional contribution to a car, they certainly added style, and generally have fared better over time than the cars to which they were mounted.
It was apparently Lord Montagu of Beaulieu in 1896, who first adorned his car with a bronze figure of St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers. Rolls Royce used their famous Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, modelled by Charles Sykes, from 1911.However, it was only in the 1920s that car mascots became more widely adopted by car manufacturers, initially as radiator caps and later as an opportunity to display a logo or an emblem.
In 1906 René Lalique designed a trophy for the winner of the Targa Florio car race, but it was during that 1920s and early 1930s that he designed car mascots. A number of these were adapted from earlier paperweight designs that he produced from 1910.This single-owner collection includes all René Lalique’s 29 commerical car mascot designs and the Naiade statuette and paperweight, which is often classified as a mascot too.A number of models are represented here in varying colour-ways.
Lalique’s range of subjects included birds, horses, dragonflies, figures, dogs, a frog, a fox, a fish, a boar, a ram, and a celestial shooting star. The underlying theme of most of the mascots was speed and if this was not the case they were most certainly symbols of prowess. Stylistically most of Lalique’s mascots are distinctively Art Deco. They demonstrate the style’s fascination with drama, movement and speed. The forms are geometric and linear, reflecting the ethos that streamlined forms communicated a sense of modernity.
René Lalique was commissioned to design one mascot specifically for Citroën’s 5CV (five horse power) – the Cinq Chevaux. This was in 1925, the year of the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Moderne. The exhibition was a display of French national pride aimed at promoting both industry and design to a global audience. It is from the Exhibition’s name that the term Art Deco was coined.
The vendor of this outstanding collection began acquiring Lalique in 2007 and quickly moved from plates and bowls to a focused pursuit of car mascots. After 10 years the collection was completed with the purchase of a Hibou, one of the rarest and most elusive designs.
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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