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R. Lalique Silver Rhinoceros Beetles Chalice Sells for $235,000!

R. Lalique Silver Chalice Decorated With Rhinoceros Beetles” title=In the 1989 movie The Last Crusade starring Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, while facing a life or death choice among a table full of chalices with just one chance to identify the legendary Holy Grail and save his father, Jones passes over all the ornate goblets and settles on the plainest Jane* of the lot.

Making his choice he famously exclaims That’s the cup of a carpenter.**

Well, he would have taken a pass on October 15th at the Fauvre Paris Auction House, where an amazingly simple, elegant and incredibly unique goblet by Rene Lalique appeared at auction with a restrained pre-sale estimate of €40,000 – €60,000.

The 6 and 1/4 inch goblet featured a stylized repeating intertwined thin leaves motif silver openwork frame with rhinoceros beetles highlighted by blue and black enamel, all surrounding blown in opalescent glass. In addition it had a well worked base and a pretty cool beetle mark on the underside.

It was classic Rene Lalique, devoid of expensive gems, and having nothing in common with the ornate bejeweled chalices so long in fashion among the upper classes and royalty of the period.

It was art plain and simple, in the great tradition of Lalique’s unique metalwork and jewelry, for which Emile Galle named Lalique “the inventor of modern jewelry”.

Making great objects as art, using materials only for what they bring to the piece, and not for their intrinsic value, Lalique was able to call forth pictures in his mind, and bring them to fruition in a way that his contemporaries could not imagine. Rhinoceros beetles as the design highlight of a great chalice?***

The chalice was created during the period 1895 to 1897. It was exhibited at the l’Exposition Universelle de Paris in 1900, which was the groundbreaking appearance for the jewelry and unique objects of Rene Lalique. It was again shown at the Salon de 1902, section Arts Décoratifs in Paris where it was acquired and then descended to the consignor at the auction.

Obviously notwithstanding the lack of jewels or excessive highly worked precious metals, Lot 77 was not the cup of a carpenter. It was the cup of an artistic genius and highly accomplished jeweler.

Today, the phrase Holy Grail is not just used to describe the cup of Christ or other alternate objects.

R. Lalique Silver Chalice Decorated With Rhinoceros Beetles: Beetle Mark On Underside” title=It’s also come to mean something you want very much; something of great significance that’s very important; or something that is difficult to accomplish or achieve.****

The Chalice had one condition problem. The blown in opalescent glass was severely damaged (though reasonably stable) as shown in the last photo here. That did not deter the roughly dozen serious bidders that competed from across the globe for the chance to own the great object of desire.

From one end of North America to the other, and from the UK to the edge of Europe and beyond, the auctioneer Cedric Melado heard from phone bidders competing with strong left bids and room bidders to make the acquisition. Bid amounts quickly left the pre-sale estimate behind and one by one the competitors withdrew until only a Frenchman in the room remained the last man standing.

He outlasted all the international interest and won the day with a final all-in bid of €206,250 (or about $235,000).

The new owner has at least one thing in common with Indiana Jones; they both chose wisely.

Kudos both to the auction house and to the expert Amélie Marcilhac. The auction house and expert got the sale information and extensive lot information out in a timely manner, and responded to inquiries immediately. And of course, they got the attention of RLalique.com. Getting all necessary information and getting questions answered was quick, easy, and professionally managed. Our experience shows that top notch service and complete information encourages confidence in bidders. The sale of this chalice was a good example of how to do it right.

R. Lalique Silver Chalice Decorated With Rhinoceros Beetles Cracked Damaged Glass” title=Of course a good day for the auction house and their expert, and a great day for the great Rene Lalique.

For additional information, see this Chalice’s auction page here at RLalique.com.

* A plain Jane is an ordinary looking or average girl or woman. It has also come to mean any ordinary looking object.

** Holy Grail Object: A cup, plate, stone, etc. of too many legends and connections to recount here. But what Harrison Ford did in the movie, was cement a connection in much of the modern public mind between the legend of the Holy Grail and the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper, the Holy Chalice. That connection is but one of many stories and explanations that have developed over time.

*** Rhinoceros Beetles: Maybe they reminded him of his mother-in-law.

**** Holy Grail Expression: For example, a cure for all cancers would be the holy grail for many medical researchers.

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One Response to “R. Lalique Silver Rhinoceros Beetles Chalice Sells for $235,000!”

  1. artpironti says:

    Excellent post in an extraordinary web. For us it is an indispensable tool of work. Thank you very much and regards from Barcelona. Art Pironti

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