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René-Jules Lalique (French, Aÿ 1860–1945 Paris)

ca. 1897–99
Gold, enamel, opals, amethysts
Overall diam. 9-1/2 in. (24.1 cm) 9 large pendants: H. 2-3/4, W. 2-1/4 in. (7 x 5.7 cm) 9 small pendants: H. 1-3/8, W. 1-1/4 in. (3.5 x 3.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Lillian Nassau, 1985
Accession Number:
  • Description

    René-Jules Lalique was born in the Marne region of France. As a young student he showed great artistic promise and his mother guided him toward jewelry making. From 1876 to 1878 he apprenticed with Louis Aucoc, a noted Parisian jeweler. By the 1890s he had opened his own workshop in Paris and become one of the most admired jewelers of the day.

    Lalique avoided using precious stones and the conservatively classical settings favored by other leading jewelers of the time. Rather, he combined semiprecious stones with such materials as enamel, horn, ivory, coral, rock crystal, and irregularly shaped Baroque pearls in settings of organic inspiration, frequently accentuated by asymmetrical curves or elaborate flourishes.

    He designed this powerfully evocative necklace for his second wife, Augustine-Alice Ledru, around the turn of the century. The repeats of the main motif — an attenuated female nude whose highly stylized curling hair swirls around her head and whose arms sensuously curve down to become a border enclosing enamel-and-gold swans and an oval cabochon amethyst — are separated by pendants set with fire opals mounted in swirling gold tendrils.

  • Exhibition History

    Canada: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, June 8 - October 15, 1995. ¦Lost Paradise: Symbolist Europe¦. Pg. 344, Fig.418, Cat.239 illus. in color.

    Baltimore, Maryland: Walters Art Gallery, November 19, 1985 - January 5,1986. Richmond, Virginia: The Virginia Museum, January 16 - March 16, 1986. Fort Worth, Texas: Kimbell Art Museum, March 29 - June 8, 1986. Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, June 26 - August 18, 1986. San Francisco, California: the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, August 28, 1986 - October 19, 1986. ¦Art Nouveau Jewelry by Rene Lalique¦

    Luxembourg: Musée Luxembourg, March 7-July 29, 2007. ¦René Lalique: Exceptional Jewellery 1890-1912¦ Catalogue: Yvonne Brunhammer, ed.

    Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Museum of Art, October 19, 2008 - January 18, 2009; San Francisco, California: Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, February 7 - May 31, 2009. Artistic Luxury: Fabergé Tiffany Lalique, cat. no. 164, pg. 147.

    State Museums of the Moscow Kremlin. "The Art of René Lalique," September 21, 2010–January 9, 2011, no. 57.

  • References

    Benedite, Leonce. "Le Bijou à l'exposition universelle." Art et Décoration, 1900, vol. 8, pp. 65-82.

    Brunhammer, Yvonne ed. René Lalique: Exceptional Jewellery 1890-1912. Milan: Skira Editore S.p.A., 2007, cat. no. 68, ill. in color p. 79 (detail), 96; discussed p. 134.

    Harrison, Stephen; Ducamp, Emmanuel; and Falino, Jeannine. "Artistic Luxury: Fabergé Tiffany Lalique." New Haven: Yale University Press and The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2008, pp. 101. 147.

    Jouvance, L. "Les Bijoux de L'Art Nouveau Bing." Revue de la bijouterie, joaillerie, orfevrerie, 1901, vol. 1, pp. 211-217.

    Minkus, Fritz. "Die Juwellierkunst auf der Pariser Weltausstellung." Kunst und Kunsthandwerk, 1900, vol. 3, pp. 485-503.

    Mortimer, Tony L. Lalique Jewellery and Glassware. New York: Octopus Publishing Group, 1989.

    Riotor, Leon. "Les Bijoutiers modernes à l'Exposition, Lalique, Colonna, Marcel Bing." L'Art Décoratif, August, 1900, vol. 2, pp. 173-179.

    Viviane. "L'Art Nouveau - Bijoux et bibelots." Revue Illustrée, January 1, 1901, vol. 31, no. 2, n.p.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History