René Jules Lalique (French, 1860–1945) was a jeweler and glass designer, and a leading figure of the Art Nouveau movement. Born in the Marne region of France, Lalique trained as a goldsmith, and later attended the School of Decorative Arts, Paris, and the Crystal Palace School of Art in London. In 1885, he established his own company in Paris, and began making jewelry and other glass objects.

His Art Nouveau brooches and combs, as well as his naturalistic approach, gained him widespread acclaim at the Paris international exhibition in 1900. His favorite subjects were women—represented with flowing hair and elaborate drapery—and animals, particularly snakes and insects. In contrast to machine-produced jewelry, Lalique’s pieces were elegant with relatively few precious stones incorporated into the design. He also experimented with rock crystal, and became the leading advocate for the use of glass in architectural structures.

In 1910, he established a glass factory in Combs-la-Ville, France, and, in 1918, he purchased a larger factory at Wingen-sur-Moder. An order for perfume bottles led to the development of his signature style, characterized by iced surfaces, elaborate or partially realistic patterns in relief, and occasionally applied or inlaid color. His relief decoration was produced by blowing into molds or by pressing. These new designs were shown at the Paris International Exhibition in 1925. Following his death, Lalique’s factory passed to his son, Marc Lalique.

Today, his work is part of the collections of major institutions around the world, including the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, the Musée Lalique and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in France, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Corning Museum in New York, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Timeline

1860
Born in Ay, Marne, France
1876–1878
Trained under Louis Aucoc
1885
Estabilshed a studio
1905
Opened a shop in Paris next to a parfumier, leading to the production of scent bottles
1945
Died in Paris, France; company passed to Marc Lalique