René Lalique glass smashes it

Glass by René Lalique (1860-1945) – the epitome of inter-war period glamour – took centre stage at Lyon & Turnbull in February when the London sale of a fine 150 piece private collection of vintage Lalique totalled £566,000.

“It was thrilling to see new clients taking part and being successful buyers in the Lalique in Colour sale,” said head of sale Joy McCall. “We welcomed bidders from four continents to the sale (the sale has yet to reach Antarctica!) and there were 14 enthusiastic new buyers who generally each acquired more than one lot. It is a clear indicator to the ongoing appeal of his glass and a market that continues to grow”.

René Lalique ‘Tortues’ vase No. 966

The auction house said that sale, Lalique in Colour: A Private Collection included good examples of some of the most famous Lalique creations – led at £47,700 by a butterscotch glass version of the Tortues vase designed in 1926 and numbered 966 in the René Lalique catalogue raisonne. “It’s a scarce and popular form in any colour but in butterscotch it was stunning. It is such a pleasure to still be handling pieces that I have not previously encountered during my 26 year career,” said Joy.

A version of the 1927 Bellecour (No. 993) vase modelled with four frosted and polished sparrows perched on berries and brambles as they feed from a bowl, brought £25,200 while the cased jade, and white stained Languedoc (No. 1021) cactus leaf vase, designed in 1929 and named after the sun-drenched region in the South of France, sold at £30,200.

René Lalique ‘Poissons’ vase No. 925

Also in a vibrant cased jade glass with grey staining was a version of the much-admired Poissons (No. 925) designed 1921 with swimming fish around the full circumference of the vase. It took £25,200 while another in cased orange glass made £15,120.

The appeal of vibrantly coloured or opalescent glass helps explain why two apparently similar items can be priced quite differently. Lalique made some of his most popular designs in multiple different colours. This collection included no less than seven examples of the Gui vase (No.948) moulded with fruiting mistletoe and six versions of the Formose vase (No.934), modelled with fan-tailed goldfish. The Gui designs sold for sums up to £6300 for the example in electric blue with the Formose vases topped by a version in cased scarlet red glass at £6048. “The two Poissons vases were in unusual colour-ways and it was fun to have such a rainbow of Gui and Formose vases” commented Joy.

René Lalique 'Escargot' vase No. 931
René Lalique ‘Escargot’ vase No. 931

Three colour variants versions of the Escargot vase (No. 931), designed 1920, made contrasting sums. That in electric blue took £8820 but those in butterscotch and a vibrant orange-red, with white stained made £15,120 and £20,160 respectively.

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 on the Place Vendôme in Paris, François Coty – some of the very first experiments in commercial perfume bottle manufacture.

René Lalique Calendal scent bottle Molinard 1
René Lalique Calendal scent bottle

Perfume bottles remained an important part of his range in the 1920s. This collection included a clear, frosted and sepia stained bottle designed 1927 to mark the 60th anniversary of a collection of poems published by Frédéric Mistral in 1867. Applied with a paper label printed Calendal Molinard Jeune Grasse Paris, it is thought this bottle never went in to general production. It made £10,080.

A rare clear, frosted and blue stained bottle from 1920, one of several designs produced by Lalique for Volnay’s Ambre de Siam scent, sold for £6,552 while a version of the famous ‘skyscaper’ style bottle designed in 1929 sold for £4,536. Remarkably, this bottle in clear, frosted and black enamelled glass, came with it original presentation box.

“This sale certainly brought cheer to a winter February and we are now working on the specialist Lalique sale to be held on 27 April in the Mall Galleries in London” said Joy.