Rene Lalique was born on April 6, 1860 in the Champagne region of France. His father was a Parisian mercantile agent who chose to move the family from the village of Ay to Paris following Rene Lalique’s birth. Although Lalique spent his life in the busy city of Paris, he drew a great deal of inspiration for his pieces from the Ay countryside. He spent much time during his life visiting and vacationing in his native village. In 1872, he entered the College Turgot where he began studying art and drawing. It is at Turgot that Rene Lalique met his lifelong friend, Justin-Marie Lequien. After graduating from college, Lalique began working as an apprentice for Louis Aucoc – the most popular jeweler and goldsmith in Paris. It is here that Lalique developed much of his talent as a glass designer and fostered a love for beautiful jewelry.
In 1878, Lalique decided to further his education. He moved to London and began attending the Sydenham College in the famous Crystal Palace. His studies concentrated on graphic design, painting, and sculpting. The Crystal Palace provided Lalique with much inspiration for his naturalistic and pastoral designs. Lalique returned to Paris in 1880 and resumed his work in jewelry design. Over the course of the next few years, he organized several jewelry shows and exhibitions, including one at the Louvre featuring the French crown jewels. Lalique also continued drawing. In 1884, several of his drawings were featured at the National Exhibition of Industrial Arts. In 1885, Lalique had amassed enough savings to acquire the Jules Destape’s Jewelry Workshop.
Over the course of the next couple of years, Lalique focused on experimentation in areas including innovative jewelry design and novel manufacturing materials. Demand continued to increase for his popular jewelry and glassware designs. In 1892, Lalique opened a new jewelry showroom at 20 Rue Therese – one of the most fashionable addresses in Paris. Rene Lalique’s goal was to create the most innovative and artistically inspired crystal and jewelry in Paris. In pursuit of this goal, Lalique channeled much of his energy into entering design competitions. Also, he was an active participant in the Salon de la Societe des Artistes Fracais from 1894-1911. In 1897, Lalique was awarded first prize at the Universal Exhibition in Brussels. That same year he received the Legion of Honor’s Croix de Chevalier.
Throughout the first 25 years of the new century, Lalique continued to design jewelry and glassware. During this period he won a number of prestigious awards. In 1907, Fracois Coty commissioned Lalique to design a line of perfume bottles for his premium perfume lines. This is the first time that perfumes were sold in attractive bottles and at affordable prices.
In 1925, Lalique designed the interior of the Sevres Pavilion at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. This show is considered the birth place of the Art Deco movement. The beautiful pavilion included a water fountain that Lalique christened “The Springs of France.” After the incredible success of Lalique’s exhibition at the Art Deco exposition, new design requests increased tremendously. It is during this year that Citroen (the French automobile maker) commissioned Lalique to design their mascot. This piece of crystal sculpture is one of the most enduring symbols of the Art Deco period. In 1926, Lalique designed and produced the windows for Reims Church of Saint-Nicoise. Many fashionable shops along the Champs-Elysees also requested Lalique’s design services.
Throughout the 1930’s, Lalique designed a wide selection of giftware, including vases, bowls, and statuettes. Lalique continued to work on a number of specialty projects, including the windows of the Church of Saint Matthew in St. Helier and the doors of Prince Asaka Yasuhiko’s Tokyo Palace. In 1935, Lalique opened a new showroom and decorated it in the Art Deco style (this location is the modern day showroom as well). Despite the financial success of Lalique, the company was forced to close at the opening of the Second World War. Rene Lalique died at the age of 85 on May 5, 1945, 3 days before victory over the Germans was declared in Europe. Soon after the end of the war, Lalique reopened its doors - an event that Rene Lalique was not fortunate enough to witness.
Today, Lalique’s products have become highly-prized collectible pieces. Replacements, Ltd. carries a number of very beautiful and sophisticated Lalique giftware products. Click here to explore exquisite works in glass produced by a design genius.