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Rene Lalique Calypso And Ondines Light Fixtures – The Mailbag

R. Lalique Calypso Opalescent Bowl Converted To A Hanging Light Fixture

Ok Ok, there never was a Rene Lalique Calypso Light Fixture back in the day. But somehow they keep popping up, and we’ve had a few questions about them in our overloaded mailbag from time to time. So we figured with the latest inquiry, to clear it up not just for our current readers, but for anyone down the road that might be looking up at 5 or 6 mythical nude siren figures swirling around an overhead opalescent glass bowl shaped light fixture sporting an R. Lalique signature!

The inquiry:

I would be grateful for any help you can give me in authenticating a chandelier I own.

It would appear to be an Ondines Chandelier by R Lalique but I cannot find any reference on your or other websites to chandeliers appearing with the Ondines design.

R. Lalique Calypso Opalescent Bowl Converted To A Hanging Light Fixture Shown From AboveI believe that the item has been in my family for at least 60 years. The bowl itself is 9 cm high and 30 cm diameter (approximately). The faint R Lalique stamp appears in the centre of the base of the bowl.

I attach three photos including one showing the Lalique stamp.

I am hoping that you can let me know whether the chandelier was made as such, is a bowl later converted into a chandelier, and in either case whether it is a genuine Lalique piece.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards

Mr. X

The reply:

Hi Mr. X. Thanks for visiting the website and for contacting us.

The bowl is not Ondines (6 sirens), but Calypso (5 sirens).

https://rlalique.com/rene-lalique-calypso-bowl

This appears (we don’t authenticate items that are not fully visible, and with the hardware on, your piece it is in that category) to be a converted bowl, with all the hardware added. Forgetting all the facts, think about Rene Lalique …. the undecorated flat bottom is the giveaway…. it wouldn’t** be like that for something made and sold by him as an overhead fixture …. it just doesn’t go over.

R. Lalique Ondines BowlBecause Calypso is bigger (Ondines bowl is 8 inches), it is more often seen converted to a hanging or ceiling fixture.

This is not the first of these we’ve seen of course:

https://rlalique.com/rene-lalique-calypso-chandelier

And see this very similar 2-siren model, which was sold as a fixture for the difference in how it would look from below as an original light fixture design by R. Lalique:

https://rlalique.com/rene-lalique-deux-sirenes-chandelier

Best Regards,

KOL

We could have skipped a lot of typing by just observing that it appears the sirens are still busy luring the unwary onto the rocks! **

R. Lalique Deux Sirenes Light FixtureAnd we didn’t get into the number of hanging cords with the questioner, but it appears from the photos that there are only three, and four would be much more typical for these hanging bowl fixtures from Rene Lalique.

Finally, on a more esoteric level, there is the whole question of altered items typically being deemed drastically less desirable and less valuable (or nearly valueless in many cases) by collectors when Lalique himself never would have put a curse on pieces put to good alternate uses. Usable art glass brought into the homes of everyday people; Lalique himself spoke about it. Heck, he invented it.

The Siren - An Oil On Canvas Painting By The 19th Century British Artist Edward ArmitageAnd about alterations, he drilled holes in many bowls (but not Calypso or Ondines) to attach hanging cords, and marketed them as light shades. He cut bowls in halves and quarters and called them appliques. He affixed seals to small dishes and called them ashtrays. He sold car mascots as paperweights, and re-used parts from some pieces to make others. He even drilled holes into the sides of vases for running electric cords to convert them to lamps. Heaven Forfend!

Just thinking out loud ……. well actually, just typing silently :).

** Of course a plain bottom did not prevent the marketing of Madagascar as a light fixture. But this is not really a direct comparison as the bottom of Madagascar though big, is crudely ancient (not in a bad way) and not flat.

*** In Greek mythology, the sirens lured nearby sailors to wreck their ships on the rocks by attracting them with wondrous sounds. Just above is The Siren, a wonderful painting by the 19th century British artist Edward Armitage. Even today, the phrase “siren song” is used to describe something that sounds great but is not going to end well.

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