R Lalique Cire Perdue Wasp Vase by Rene Lalique

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Rene Lalique Sales Records: Highest Selling Lalique Auction Total In History With Just 16 R. Lalique Lots

Rene Lalique Femme Ailee Balustrade Cire Perdue Bronze From the 1900 Paris ExhibitionThere’s no more appropriate place for the sale of great R. Lalique items than Paris. Rene Lalique spent most of his life in Paris. He lived and died in perhaps the greatest of the European metropolises. Most of his inspired and unique works were created there, and it was there in 1900 and again in 1925 that Lalique rose above the fray; rose above the crowded field of artists and designers, and left his contemporaries behind as he captured the attention and the imagination of the world.

Many of his works, both unique and commercial show a heavy Japanese artistic influence. In a way, you could predict that perhaps the greatest of all French decorative artists, growing up in the rich pastoral countryside would embrace the natural world motif as a primary artistic expression in the same way that countless generations of Japanese artists had done before him.

Rene Lalique Femme Ailee Balustrade Cire Perdue Bronze From the 1900 Paris ExhibitionBut you could not predict the new heights to which Lalique would take this traditional expressive motif, as he applied his interpretation of the surrounding world not only to artistically unique objects, but also to the mass production of the new art glass which he brought into the homes of so many people around the world. Echoing an old 20th century American summer camp fireside story, the “foo is on the other shoot”. For today, a whole new generation of eastern artists is trying to build upon the works of the great Frenchman; works that stand squarely on the shoulders of their own native ancestral designers.

So it is only fitting that the collection of Tokeo Horiuchi, the enthusiastic collector of turn of the century French decorative art; art which so clearly echoes the motifs of his homeland, would be destined for sale not in Tokyo, a center of high level natural world artistic efforts for so many long past generations, but would instead be brought to Paris, the scene, the home and the leading light of the great wave of the genre that brought Lalique’s work not just to one city or one country, but to most of the civilized world.

It’s also fitting that in a sale heavily laden with so many of the names you would expect to hear when assembling an entourage of the great decorative arts achievers of the day; names like Brandt, Cartier, Baccarat, Daum, Dunand, Frere, Galle, Guimard, Jallot, Majorelle, Sevres, Mackintosh and Morris; that the high seller in such a sale would be a non-commercial object made for the very 1900 exposition which was the foundation event for the assemblage. Yes friends, in the rural Midwestern United States, an area not unfamiliar to this writer, they call it a rail or a railing. And no, when they say rail, they aren’t talking about the bird family that includes the coot, though there are quite a few old coots ** and old railbirds *** back in the Western Reserve ****.

Rene Lalique Bats And Butterflies Rene Lalique Serpent Topped Pocket WatchHeck, when you think Midwestern railing, you think of a split piece of timber laying horizontally between two posts somewhere outdoors that keeps your livestock in place, and not exhibition visitors both astonished and at bay. For something like that, you’d need a fancy name and material other than timber, and in Paris for a high seller they had both.

Cire perdue bronze, in the form of a nude butterfly woman; a rail piece that can stand on its own with no fence posts needed :). And a railing that can stand on it’s own when compared artistically and monetarily to the best of the best in the 1900 design world. Oh yea, and it’s not a railing in Paris, it’s a balustrade…. a great French word that means “railing”. So yes, there are thousands of miles of balustrades in the rural midwest, but of course most of the inhabitants (the cows AND the people) can’t speak French so they don’t know it!

Rene Lalique Nude Nymphe Amongst Branches Pendant And Comporting ChainThere were 137 lots in the February 16th sale at Sotheby’s, of which 17 were the works of Lalique. Against an estimate of €200,000 – €300,000, the great Femme Ailee rail sold for a hammer price of €1,050,000 and a premium inclusive total of €1,240,750. At today’s exchange rate of about 1.375 dollars to the Euro (a rate used for all other approximate dollar prices in this article), the railing part made $1,706,000.

This same railing had previously sold at Christie’s New York Rockefeller Center Salesrooms as Lot 111 on December 10th, 1998 where it made $134,500 including the buyers premium *****. That’s less than 1/12 of the current price! It is one of five railing parts (having three different designs), several of which are shown in an iconic photo of the Lalique display at the 1900 Exhibition Universelle in Paris.

The sale price is likely the 2nd highest price ever achieved at auction for a single work by Rene Lalique, the Lady Trent Doors being the highest. We can safely say it’s the highest price at auction for a Rene Lalique Railing piece and it most definitely was the high selling item in the entire Sotheby’s sale.

Another new high seller for Lalique, and a world record price at auction for a Lalique Pocket Watch, was the very cool Butterflies and Bats Pocket Watch. It was also the 2nd highest selling lot in the entire sale, outselling an amazing Bureau Aux Archidees Louis Majorelle Desk! The small 2 inch wide jewel of a watch made an all-in €696,750 against a pre-sale estimate of €150,000 – €200,000. In dollars it’s about $958,000.

Rene Lalique Butterfly Brooch
After the watch, things fell off really quickly (just kidding), as the third high seller for Lalique and fourth for the entire auction, the quintessential nude female pendant with comporting chain, sold for €312,750 or about $430,000, once again blowing out the estimated price of €100,000 – €120,000.

Rene Lalique Female Face BroochFourth in line for price honors was the 9 centimeters long and stunningly realistic enamel, gold, silver and diamond Butterfly Brooch which hit €300,750 all-in, or about $413,000 against an estimated price of only €60,000 – €80,000.

Fifth in the price department was a fabulous and so R. Lalique Brooch featuring the classic Lalique drop baroque pearl under a female face spreading to detailed enamel work. The estimate was €100,000 – €120,000 but the price was €216,750 or about $298,000.

In some ways the most surprising price of the sale was for lot 126, a clear and frosted Sauterelles Vase with patina that against a reasonable to strong estimate of €4000 – €6000 made an all-in €13,750 or about $19,000.

All in all, of the 17 Lalique lots, 16 sold, the only exception being the lowest estimated of them all, a Font-Romeu Vase with heavy patina estimated at €2500 – €3500.

The 16 sellers made €3,410,975 or $4,690,000 making this the highest selling group of R. Lalique at any single auction in history. Quality not quantity was key. Furthermore, every one of the 16 lots that sold made an all-in total that exceeded its high estimate. The average price for the sold lots was €213,186 or $293,000. An amazing group of numbers and another great day for the great Rene Lalique.

Here is a link to the Lalique results in the sales catalogue.

** In the U.S., an “old coot” is a kind of a simple minded harmless older person. But you can add some words like crazy or senile to the beginning to give it a more robust and a bit less harmless meaning.

*** A “rail bird” is a member of the rail bird family, which as we mentioned includes coots. But if you put the two words together, “railbird” in the U.S. is any sports enthusiast, but specifically a horse-racing fan who sits on, leans on, or hangs out near the track rail at horse races or workouts.

**** At the time of the founding of the USA, the 13 colonies agreed to compromise many of the land claims found in their original land grants, specifically the ones that gave them all the land to the next ocean. In return the new government assumed the States’ debts from the Revolutionary War. When Connecticut gave up its expansive land claims, it retained a claim to over 3,300,000 acres on some land in the Northwest Territory that was set aside for future settlement including land reserved for those who lost their homes in the war. That land, which now comprises part of Northern Ohio, was (and still is) called the Western Reserve; land reserved in the west. If you go there today, and head out east of Cleveland (named after the head of the Connecticut Land Company survey crew Moses Cleaveland … a printer dropped the first “a” from his name to save space) to Chagrin Falls and the Chagrin River Valley, you’ll find an amazing idyllic architectural and geographic make-up very much like the old Connecticut countryside. And if were wondering, 3,300,000 acres would equal nearly 6% of the entire UK.

***** The sale catalogue from the 1998 Christie’s New York Sale on December 10, 1998 is available for purchase (including the sales results) in the Decorative Arts Catalogues section in the Library here at RLalique.com. This Library section alone has nearly 500 different auction catalogues of sales, all of which include some Rene Lalique works in the catalogue. These are in addition to the separate Library section which is devoted to totally Lalique Auction Catalogues. Over 100 of those are listed there for sale.

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One Response to “Rene Lalique Sales Records: Highest Selling Lalique Auction Total In History With Just 16 R. Lalique Lots”

  1. 1585 says:

    When Lalique announced their new items for 2013 I didn’t really understand what the ‘Metamorphose’ crystal sculpture was supposed to be……but your opening picture of the Femme Ailee bronze has solved the mystery!! 🙂

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