Almost a decade before the birth of Rene Lalique, in a small but burgeoning town a few miles north of Boston, a not quite 40 year old Amory Houghton got in his mind to get in the glass making business. He started with a share in one small local glass company and later acquired other glassmakers. 13 years later, in 1864 Houghton took over the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company in Brooklyn New York. Even with the help of his two sons, the Brooklyn business was financially unstable. And of course the fire was a big problem too. But along came an inspired banker from the small town of Corning New York who convinced the family (naturally money was involved) to move their business to Corning.
The newly renamed Corning Flint Glass Works was up and operating in 1868, but by 1870 had gone broke. Fortuitously Houghton’s two sons were able to get the business back (sans Houghton Sr.), and succeeded in getting the company on a firmer financial footing, thanks to a small number of products such as colored signal lights for railroads!*
Through the years and plenty of ups and downs, the company has had an amazing run through American history. It worked with Edison on his glass for the light bulb, and for Steve Jobs it developed the glass screens for the iPhone. It created the glass for Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) and invented Pyrex. It made the mirror for the Mount Palomar observatory and supplied the glass for the primary mirror in the Hubble Space Telescope. And when responding to a 1960’s era request from the British Post Office for a better and more reliable transmission material, it created the optical fiber that has revolutionized communications. And this is just a small sample of the highlights!
Corning has high tech, high talent, and very low turnover. They are so heavy on innovation and invention, you get the feeling that when a company needs a glass problem solved and approaches Corning, that more often than not a Corning guy in the room says, “We’ve got something on the shelf (from 1, 2, 10, or 20 years ago) we can make work for that.”
At Corning’s Sullivan Park Research Center, they obtain something in the neighborhood of 25 patents a month as Corning spends around 9% of all revenue for R&D.
But the company is also strong in community and social works. One such undertaking was conceived to help celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary: the establishment of the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) in 1951.
The museum is an independent and not-for-profit organization whose mission it to tell about and keep alive the history and the art of glass. In addition to being an operating museum visited by something like 400,000 people per year, it also holds seminars, classes, demonstrations, workshops, and lectures. It has everything from glassmaking to glass breaking demonstrations, and museum visitors can literally make their own glass as part of their experience at the Corning. On top of all that, the museum is active in both scientific research and publishing on a wide variety of glass related topics.
All in all, the museum is nearing 50,000 different glass objects in its collection that span roughly 35 centuries of glassmaking.
Also part of the museum is the Rakow research library (named after significant benefactors of the museum), the leading research library on glass anywhere in the world. The library has an extensive collection of original period materials on all aspects of glass and glassmaking. Of note is that the collection includes some great original materials related to Rene Lalique (yes, we’re getting to that guy soon:) some of which previously resided right here at World Headquarters! Of course, these are but a small part of the over 2000 documents relating to Lalique’s glass production housed at the Rakow.
Of the tens of thousand of objects at the Corning, until recently only about 200 were directly related to Rene Lalique. Over half of those were acquired in the early 1980’s, comprising rare models and prototypes (work pieces) which had been kept together by a Rene Lalique et Cie factory supervisor from the period.
But in 2011, Stanford and Elaine Steppa, New Jersey residents with a longtime involvement in the works of the great Lalique, donated about 400 items to the museum. Most of the items were commercial production pieces, which by their numbers sampled the largest part of the gamut, in time and types, of Lalique’s commercial works. And there were also a few amazing rare unique and nearly unique items as well.
So now with around 600 pieces representing everything from the conception to the process to the results, the reference material to back stop it all, and the ability to borrow objects to fill in a random blank or two**; suddenly the story appears in the totality of the materials and objects.
Suddenly, it’s not a good looking glass vase from 1922; it’s the story of the artist and his design development and influences (the swans on the pond or the birds in the trees at the country house). It’s how the glass thing got started (the jewelry, the bottles), how it was industrialized (the models, the patents), how the art was conceived (the drawings) and with what means and what steps (the work pieces) the final object was created. Suddenly, what we call a story, they call an exhibition!
It’s the visual and referential story of Rene Lalique, told one piece at a time through about 200 objects, and amazing period reference material. It’s “Rene Lalique: Enchanted by Glass” at the Corning.
The exhibition is already up and open (as of Saturday May 17th) and will continue through January 4th, 2015.
Our takeway*** from an in-depth interview with the exhibition curator Kelley Jo Elliot**** can be boiled to down to one overriding message. The purpose of the exhibition is to tell the story. From the Cire Perdue Vase, to tell how he did it and how it came to be. From the 1893 exhibition medal, to tell what his goals were, what was important to him, and how he was trying to achieve his aims. From the round green glass invitation medallion, to show his technique and his touch. And from the iconic commercial R. Lalique items such as the Serpent Vase, the Tourbillons Vase, or the Suzanne Statue, to be able to explain in the context of Lalique, his world and his history, how these wonderful art glass pieces were developed.
To help put it all in perspective the exhibition is organized in a couple of ways, including by timeline. So the visitor can see the development of Lalique from unique jewelry all the way to the later big architectural pieces; which would include by the way, the amazing 1932 figural panel from the Wanamaker’s store in Philadelphia.
The museum is located in the Finger Lakes***** region of New York State. It’s 4 or 5 hours drive from NYC, and about the same from Washington D.C.. From Niagara Falls it’s about 3 hours. The closest decent size city is Ithaca, home to Cornell University. And there is small regional airport (Elmira/Corning) that is only about a 15 minute drive (paid shuttle available) to the museum that has flights from Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Orlando.
The exhibition is included as part of the general museum visitor charge. The museum is open 7 days a week from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM during the summer, but after Labor Day the closing time moves up to 5:00 PM. Further details can be found at the museum website.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum has also published a thoughtful and informative nearly 400 page reference book about Rene Lalique and the Corning, containing hundreds of photos of both commercial and unique pieces, and pictures of a large number of original models. The book is coincidentally titled “Rene Lalique Enchanted by Glass”. Shown here from the book, in addition to a photo of the dust jacket, is a photo of the extremely rare non-commercial Levrier Car Mascot created as a gift for the Prince of Wales in 1929, next to a photo of an original plaster model for that mascot. Who else but the Corning can tell the story like this? Here is a link to the book page on the museum store, where you’ll be getting a great book and contributing to a great cause.
Our final thoughts:
This is not a show where a bunch of brightly colored vases, some valuable jewelry and a few unique objects are tossed together and the exhibitor is just saying, “Hey, look at this, didn’t this guy make cool stuff”. The Corning is fortunately situated with its collection and resources to bring this stuff to life, and to put it in perspective and context historically, educationally, artistically and industrially. It’s a great opportunity for anyone interested in the Rene Lalique and his works. And heck, it’s just an added kicker that the Finger Lakes region of New York is a great place to visit in the summertime!
* Persistence paid off for the for the Houghton clan. The 1957 Forbes Magazine list of the 76 richest Americans listed both Amory Houghton and Arthur A. Houghton Jr. at between 100 million and 200 million dollars each. In today’s dollars that’s in the billion range (give or take a few hundred million of course).
** Included in the exhibition are 14 unique items (designs, objects, jewelry) on loan from other museums. The lenders are the Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon Portugal; the Chazen in Madison Wisconsin; The Walters in Baltimore Maryland, the VMFA in Richmond Virginia; the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.; and the Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris, France. All are linked from our page listing over 80 museums around the world containing the works of Rene Lalique.
*** The “takeway” is not a quote. It’s more like the gist, the central point, or the main idea as we took it.
**** Kelley is the Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at the Corning. She has a Fine Art Bachelors Degree and a Masters in Decorative Arts History and has worked with a range of museums. She has a strong interest and background in the works of Rene Lalique and in the French artistic glass and jewelry milieu from which he emerged.
***** The Finger Lakes region of New York State is so named because of the pattern of a string of long narrow (and narrowing) lakes which run down from below the New York State Thruway (AKA I-90 or the Thomas E Dewey Thruway) roughly bounded by I-390 in the west and I-81 in the east; kind of in-between but below Rochester and Syracuse. The lakes look like fingers on a map.
In 1911, former Kentucky and Missouri schoolteacher Mary McAfee Atkins died at the age of 75. When her husband died 25 years earlier in 1886, he had left here about $250,000, which by the time of her death had become $1,000,000 (this at a time when $1,000,000 was a lot of money of course).
She left $300,000 in her will to her adopted home town “… for the purchase of necessary ground in Kansas City, Missouri, and the creation of a building to be maintained and used as a Museum of Fine Arts for the use and benefit of the public.”
One notable event during the period when Mrs. Atkins was a widow, and just a country mile from her Kansas City, Missouri home, was the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis Missouri. A major World’s Fair (how could it be a World’s Fair and not be major is a good question), it was attended by the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Geronimo…yes THE Geronimo, Henri Poincare, T.S. Eliot, Helen Keller, and too many more people and companies to mention. Well except one of course, because Rene Lalique objects were exhibited and sold in St. Louis. And it was there that Henry Walters, the eldest son of William Thompson Walters, a wealthy Baltimore (by way of Liverpool Pennsylvania) liquor trader and railroad man, would see and purchase some great Lalique Jewelry on exhibit at the St. Louis Exposition.
Walters would die in 1931, leaving his palazzo like art house and contents to the City of Baltimore. It remains today, over 75 years after its opening in 1934, as The Walters Art Museum. And it has about a dozen great pieces of R. Lalique in its 35,000 object collection; a collection that coincidentally contains about the same number of objects as the Museum which is the main point of our story. A story we shall now resume :).
In 1915, four years after the death Mrs. Atkins, William Rockhill Nelson, the man who founded the Kansas City Star Newspaper died. He left the bulk of his large estate in a trust, the income to be used for the purchase of artworks such as paintings, sculptures, books, tapestries, and engravings “…for the delectation** and enjoyment of the public generally.” The estates of a couple other Nelson family members and Mr. Nelson’s lawyer also left additional funds for the same purpose.
These Atkins and Nelson bequests were unrelated and each estate had its own plans. So it would be some time before events would take their course and these two different bequests would join purpose and coalesce into something tangible for an even greater public good. But coalesce they did, and with trustees for the schoolteacher, the publisher, and the local government working together, in December 1933, at the height of the great depression, on the grounds of Nelson’s former mansion, the new museum was opened to the public. The cost was a striking 2.75 million dollars.
The whole plan started off with land and money, but without much art. But with wildly depressed prices for fantastic artwork due to the depression, the new museum was quickly able to create a world-class collection across many fields.
Coincidently, the museum architecture was modeled after the classic design of the Cleveland Museum of Art, which recently put on its own World’s Fair Exhibition around the objects of Lalique, Tiffany, and Faberge from the Paris Exposition of 1900.
Fast forwarding in our walk down Midwestern art history lane, in the early part of our new century, the Museum space was expanded for the first time, to nearly 400,000 square feet with the addition of about 165,000 square feet in the new Bloch Building. The Bloch Building was named after the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Henry Bloch and his wife Marion; Henry being the H in H & R Bloch.
And it is at the Nelson-Atkins Museum Of Art in Kansas City Missouri, born of the generous mid-western philanthropic and charitable mindset that is a hallmark of the American character, as part of their amazing and creative exhibition “Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851–1939” that our story comes together.
This exhibition makes the point that all these various World’s Fairs were the embodiment of the then leading design and artistic expression as it stood around the globe. Companies and countries brought their best, and it would be shown in a milieu of the best, newest, most innovative products from dozens of countries and hundreds of companies. These Fairs were more than just big car boot sales looking for buyers. They developed into an expression of the state of art, design, and technology of the day. In the time before routine international travel, before computers and the worldwide web, before the television, and in many cases before cars, planes, telephones, cameras, radios and even electric lights, these Fairs were the place you could go to see what would astound you in a time when the world was a larger, much more unfamiliar, and stranger place.
It’s only natural that among the makers who would not shy away, but would savor the chance to bring the a-game*** to such a gathering, would be the great Rene Lalique. Be it Paris in 1900 or 1925, St. Louis in 1904, or anywhere else on the globe that the leading artistic endeavors of the day would meet and be compared side by side, Rene Lalique was an anxious participant. And it was that country mile from the schoolteacher and the publisher, a perfect place for the great Lalique to show his goods half a world away from home, that Henry Walters bought, retained, and donated for the public delectation, two of the three pieces of phenomenal Lalique Jewelry that have once again made the trip back to where they first met the American public eye, in Missouri.
And that fortuitous sale back in 1904 could not have occurred in a more apt setting. For Missouri is known throughout America as the “Show Me” state, an expression attributed**** to Missouri Congressman Villard Vandiver who in 1899 is reported to have said in a speech, “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.” Just the place for Rene Lalique.
The Nelson-Atkins Inventing The Modern World Exhibition, bringing in objects from so many World’s Fairs held over nearly 90 years, allows a visitor to see the artistic and technological progression as time moved through the industrial revolution and the age of invention. And it allows viewing each Fair and its objects in the context of the flow of history, not just for design and industry, but culturally as well. Because wrapped up in each object on display is the ability, the talent, the aspirations of the artist, and the state of the industry and the cultures from which they sprang.
In addition to the wonderful Pansy Brooch and Grape Necklace from The Walters, is the amazing Wasps Stickpin exhibited at the Exposition Universelle de Paris in 1900. This stickpin has been lent by the Design Museum in Copenhagen Denmark. All three objects are stunning in their overall artistic concept, presentation and detail. And all three are trademark Rene Lalique; natural world motifs magnificently executed using materials for what they bring to the artistic nature of the project, and not just creating holders for valuable gems.
Note that each of the three Lalique Jewels is documented in the seminal work Rene Lalique Schmuck und Objets d’art 1890 – 1910 by Sigrid Barten, which is available for purchase in our Library. The Grapes Necklace is Object 346 and can be found on Page 246. The Wasps Stickpin is Object 1400 on Page 478, and the Pansy Brooch is Object 1061 on Pages 414-415.
The Nelson-Atkins is open Wednesdays 10 to 4, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 to 9, Saturdays 10 to 5, and Sundays Noon to 5. You know what we said earlier about the mid-western mindset? Admission is free. While you’re there, you might want to check out the other stuff they have as well :). Visit their website or call them at 816-561-4000 for more information.
The Exhibition will be at the Nelson-Atkins through August 12th, 2012. It will then move to the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh for the period October 13th, 2012 to February 24, 2013. On April 14, 2013 it will open at the New Orleans Museum of Art and remain there until August 4, 2013. It will then move to its final stop at The Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina from September 21, 2013 to January 19th, 2014.
You can also visit the R.Lalique Jewelry section of the Rene Lalique Biography here at RLalique.com, where you will find links to all the great jewelry resources on the site. And visit the Lalique Museum page for a listing and links to over 80 different museums worldwide that have works of Rene Lalique in their collections. This list includes the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art as their collection contains a great looking black glass Lezards et Bluets Vase and a Sauterelles Vase, The Walters Art Museum, The Design Museum Denmark in Copenhagen, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the New Orleans Art Museum.
** Delectation means enjoyment or pleasure. So a food that is good might be called delectable, which would be pleasing or delicious. If it’s really good, it could be delectacious, but we’re not sure if that is a real word or not.
*** “a-game” is an American expression which means to bring your best.
**** “show me” as the watchword for Missouri has other claimed origins, none this compelling.
Mrs. Atkins photo from Mr. Denardo.
Three inside photos of the Exhibition by Bob Greenspan.
Nearly 900 years ago around the middle of the 12th century, the first walls were built for a compound that has survived nearly a millenium. About 200 years after these early walls appeared, the first stone bell tower was built on the site. There is an amazing amount of history at this location, including the construction of many cathedrals (all Russian Tsars were crowned in the 15th century Cathedral of the Assumption), the occupation and attempted destruction by Napoleon in 1812, and of course, the housing of the offices of the various governments in charge of the general and sometimes much wider area.
But our interests focus beginning in the early 1500’s when the Ivan the Great Bell Tower was built. The bell tower was later raised, around 1600, to it’s current height of 266 feet, and next to it sits the giant (200 ton) Tsar Bell, said to be the largest bell in the world. The tower also is supposed to mark the geographic center of Moscow and it contains over 20 bells. Until the mid 1800’s brought the construction of the Christ the Savior Cathedral, which was demolished by Stalin in 1931 and then re-built in the 1990’s (see the recent last photo below), no building in Moscow was taller than the Great Bell Tower, and until around 1917, no other building in Moscow was allowed to be built higher than the Great Bell Tower.
A few decades after the Great Bell Tower was built, during the period of roughly 1530 to 1550, a church was built next to it. 150 years after that, the church was converted into an Assumption Belfry, and later the first floor of that Belfry was transformed into a museum exhibition hall.
And it is there, where 200 years ago one Frenchman wrecked havoc not just on the citizens of Moscow, but on this site generally, including the burning of part of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, that another Frenchman will be honored. For in September, in the church turned Belfry turned exhibition hall in the shadow of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the Kremlin presents an exhibition devoted solely to the works of another historical Great; the Great Rene Lalique!
The exhibition: Rene Lalique and His Art, will commence September 21, 2010, and run until January 9th, 2011. Lenders to this exhibition include the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon Portugal; the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris France; the Lalique Museum in Hakone Japan; and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in the United States.
Yelena Gagarina, in charge of Kremlin museums, related at a press conference: In the fall, the Kremlin will host a collection of art nouveau jewelry designed by Rene Lalique. It’s going to be a very beautiful exhibition but also a complicated one. We are bringing to Moscow many great and unique items including from Portugal, Paris, Japan, and New York. I hope visitors will appreciate Lalique’s sketches and his fantastic jewelry skills. His work does not boast a large amount of valuable gem stones or rich materials but they are very interesting in terms of design.
All these contributing museums, and near 60 others that have Rene Lalique works in their collections, are listed on the Lalique Museum page at RLalique.com, where you can access links to their websites. And in the jewelry section of the biography of Rene Lalique, you can access all the resources at RLalique.com related to Lalique Jewelry. And finally, to discover all Rene Lalique exhibition information at RLalique.com, both current and historical, check out the Lalique Exhibition section of the Lalique bio.
We will bring you more news and details about this great upcoming exhibition when it becomes available.
Photos: The first photo above is an aerial view of the Kremlin complex, where on the right side of the photo you can see the Assumption Belfry next to the Ivan the Great Bell Tower. The second photo shows the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in the foreground, and behind and to the left the Assumption Belfry. Both photos are courtesy of the Kremlin and we appreciate their permission to use them!
Rene Lalique created a wonderful fountain for the 1925 Paris Exposition Des Arts Décoratifs, the Art Deco Exposition. And full size Source De La Fontaine Lalique statues of the designs that were incorporated into that fountain sell for many thousands of dollars. In creating his great fountain, Les Sources De France, Rene Lalique was following in the footsteps of the tradition in Paris of the great French fountain builders dating back to the middle ages when fountains were first constructed to provide drinking water to the people of Paris!
Lalique knew he had conceived a great design, not just for the fountain in its entirety, but also in the style and motif of the large glass statues which were the fountain elements. As a result, he also made a miniature statuette model in the style of the fountain statues set in his classic round cendrier with centerpiece. In this case, the centerpiece is the Statuette De La Fontaine.
Today, this style cendrier in all its forms is commonly called a ring dish by sellers either because they don’t know, or because “ashtray” is not usually the best selling point.
A nice looking example of the Rene Lalique Cendrier Statuette De La Fontaine has appeared at auction, in apparently great condition with a starting price of just $99 and no reserve. The seller states there is no damage.
Here is a link to a saved/cached image version of the original 130357207907 listing online. You may have to use the zoom function of your browser (or whatever program opens images for you) to get the cached image to expand in the window if it does not appear full size. After clicking on the link to the item, a new window will open with the cached image in it. On a Mac, just click on the image and see if that expands it. If not, press the apple key and click on the cached image in your browser window. On a PC, hold down the alt key while clicking on the cached image.
And you can learn more about Rene Lalique’s contributions to the 1925 Paris Expo and the international acclaim he achieved by his accomplishments there, in the Lalique Books and Library Section! Most of the Lalique biography books available there cover the subject in some detail.
The Statuette De La Fontaine Cendrier: A clean design, a no-reserve auction, and a relatively inexpensive memento of the great Lalique Art Deco Fountain.
Rene Lalique Jewelry is leading the Imperishable Beauty exhibition of art nouveau jewelry at the Cincinnati Art Museum on view thru January 17th, 2010.
The exhibition in Cincinnati Ohio contains over 100 pieces from a single private collection, of which the most significant numbers are the works of Rene Lalique. Other contemporaries from around the world that are represented include Louis Aucoc, who was an early employer of Rene Laiique, Boucheron, Descomps, Angenot, Edmond-Henri Becker, Paul-Emile Brandt, Charles Desrosiers, Faberge, Fouquet, Lucien Gaillard, F. Walter Lawrence, Paul and Henri Vever, Vladimir Soloviev, Philippe Wolfers, Victor Gerard, Frank Gardner Hale, Louis Zorra and others. The works of 34 art nouveau jewelers in total are on display.
This is the same art nouveau jewelry exhibition that was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (MFA) that was the subject of a previous Lalique Jewellery Exhibition article in this Blog.
Here is a link to general exhibition information at the Cincinnati Art Museum where you can also find the hours and dates the great jewelry is on display.
One theme is evident throughout Lalique’s jewelry in the exhibition. His turn towards jewelry as art and not just a valuable setting for gemstones, freed him to create unique objects that only included gems for what they added to the art of the piece, and not because the gem by itself was of high value. Lalique’s innovation in valuing the entire object as artwork, allowed him to incorporate a large number of ancillary materials not commonly used in the day, and it elevated him beyond the 19th century jewelers that were basically building holders for valuable stones, and not attractive objects d’art in their own right.
If you want to learn more about the man that glassmaker Emile Galle referred to as “The Inventor of Modern Jewelry”, visit the Rene Lalique Biography page here at RLalique.com.
Of course, the hardbound catalog of the exhibition, conveniently titled “Imperishable Beauty”, is available here at RLalique.com in the Rene Lalique Books and Library Section containing Museum and Exhibition Books and Catalogues. The exhibition book is 176 pages and a total of over 100 great color photographs of Rene Lalique jewelry and other art nouveau jewelry in the exhibition. The three photos shown here are small samples of the Rene Lalique jewelry on display, and of the content of the great exhibition book, which is published and copyright by the MFA. The book also contains scholarly analysis of the motifs and the development of the art nouveau jewelry movement.
And in case you need more of an incentive to visit the exhibition, the museum location is another reason to make the trip! Cincinnati is a lively and charming Midwestern town. Jerry Springer, yes, TV show Jerry Springer was the mayor of Cincinnati around 40 years ago! There is plenty to keep a tourist busy including the great waterfront and riverboats on the Ohio River, major league sports, a regional amusement park, and a pretty good night life. But just a few minutes outside of town, you will find yourself in a rich and rolling rural countryside with a quieter and slower Midwest family atmosphere, and just a stone’s throw from Kentucky bluegrass country.
This is a world-class exhibition in a great river city, and a wonderful chance to see a large number of unique works of Rene Lalique alongside the products of his contemporaries.
Rene Lalique’s jewelry and all his original works have created a great public interest around the globe. As a result, every day mail pours into RLalique.com World Headquarters with people interested in everything from R Lalique Identification or authentication, to wanting to purchase something or track down a piece they have been looking for, or to talk about the Rene Lalique Sellers Services we offer, or wanting some Rene Lalique Consulting or looking for an R Lalique Appraisal; the emails and the reasons for them run the gamut of just about anything you can imagine to do with the great Rene Lalique.
We thought we’d publish one of our many email exchanges from this week to give you a glimpse of some of the goings on here at the desert hub of worldwide RLalique activity. From this email exchange, you might think we have WAY too much free time, but nothing could be further from the truth!
We’ve made minor edits to remove the identity of the RLalique.com Enthusiast, and to add photos and links for the benefit our RLalique.com Blog readers.
The Email Question:
Ok, you guys may be my last hope of finding an answer I’ve been looking so long for. About approximately 16 or 17 years ago we had at our Dallas Museum of Art, a fantastic Lalique exhibit. One of the items was a brooch of a man & woman just about to kiss. It must have been made of frosted crystal. It looked like a piece of carved ice. It was beautiful. But engraved around the edge of the brooch were words. Beautiful words that I thought I’d never forget. The words were just a short phrase. But now, I cannot remember what they said. This is my question. Do you know how I can find out what the words say? In my recent searches, I see they have mimicked this brooch on a perfume bottle. It seems the brooch may be called Le Baiser brooch (1904) If I knew at the time it would be so hard to remember I would have wrote it down at the time…. Can you help me?”
Hi RLalique.com Enthusiast. Thanks for contacting us and for visiting our website.
The brooch “Le Baiser”. This seems like a tough question. But, we have the answer!!!!!
The brooch you are asking about is owned by the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris… having been donated to them in 1960.
It was lent by them in 1998 to the 3 city exhibition “The Jewels of Lalique” that was in NY at the Cooper-Hewitt, and in DC at the Smithsonian, and then in Dallas the last couple months of 1998 ending on January 10th, 1999 which is where you saw it.
The brooch also was in Japan in 2000-2001 at a huge exhibition of RLalique held there at 3 locations including in Tokyo at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum that we talked about in the Blog a couple months ago… which is the former residence of Prince Asaka and which contains the great Lalique Doors!
AND, most importantly, it appears in the book Lalique Par Lalique, the smaller early edition from 1977/1983, where they discuss the inscription that is enameled on the edge!
“Je reve aux baisers qui demeurent toujours” ….. I dream of kisses eternal! Or ….. I dream of kisses which last forever!
And so do we!
PS – It is amazing what you can put together in a few minutes when you are sitting in the middle of The Rene Lalique Books and Library room! (End of Reply)
This brooch was donated to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in 1960 by a son of Rene Lalique named Rene Le Mesnil. You can read about it in the Lalique Jewelry section of the Lalique Biography here on the website.
Seriously, we know how the ancients felt when they walked into Ptolemy’s great Library at Alexandria! Ok, not that “seriously”, but you get the point
And of course, the Lalique Exhibition Catalogues for the exhibitions mentioned in our reply and shown in photos here are obviously available in the Rene Lalique Books and Library section here on the website. They will be found in what is by far the largest selection of Lalique Exhibition Books and Catalogues for sale anywhere in the world. The Lalique Par Lalique book mentioned in our email reply is also in the Library in the section on Modern Lalique Books, where similarly, you will find it among what is by far world’s largest selection of post war books on Rene Lalique and his works.
And don’t forget when you are traveling, to check out our extensive list of Lalique Museum Collections around the world. Wherever you go, you won’t be far from some great R Lalique items.
Now here is the reply (verbatim) from the RLalique.com Enthusiast!
You guys are my HERO!!!!!!!!
Thank you so much….
..I would give you a hug!!!!!!
So here’s a cyber HUG !!!!
Thank you (End of Reply)
Hmmmm, we never got a cyber hug before! But it’s greatly appreciated!
And now you know, not just a little more about Rene Lalique, you also know that the Testimonial Page here at RLalique.com likely contains just a small sampling of the great responses and reactions we’ve had from our global readership to the concept of our website!
Finally, having received our first cyber hug, we will leave you with this thought:
Nous rêvons aux étreintes qui demeurent toujours” ….. We dream of hugs eternal!
Rene Lalique Jewelry: In the top tier of Lalique’s jewelry creations, made before his turn to mass production of glass, are the Rene Lalique unique Serpents motif objects. Two great variations of this striking R Lalique Jewelry design are in world-class museums and their survival provides a great chance to compare and contrast follow-on implementations by Lalique of one of his most amazing design ideas.
The piece most often appearing in exhibitions and photos around the world (including the accompanying photo from Wikipedia Commons) is the 9 Serpents pectoral* owned by the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon. This amazing piece was acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian directly from Rene Lalique in 1908 and it resides in the museum specifically built to house the collections he amassed during his lifetime, including his collection of over 100 of the works of Rene Lalique. The Gulbenkian Serpents creation is classified as a pectoral instead of a brooch due to its amazing size of 21 cm, or over 8 inches long. A similar piece to the Gulbenkian’s was exhibited in 1900 with strings of pearls hanging from the mouths of the serpents.
But another great Serpents motif jewelry piece also appears at exhibition from time to time, this one owned by the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg Russia. The Hermitage is housed in the former Winter Palace of the Czars, and contains over three million art objects in its collections including several works of Rene Lalique. The Hermitage Serpents design takes the form of a pendant, and features 6 Serpents, two of which retain the natural pearl in their mouths, so often used by Lalique in his jewelry. This pendant form Serpents design is roughly half the size of the Gulbenkian’s Serpents pectoral, measuring only 11 cm long. It recently was on loan to the Artistic Luxury Exhibition which appeared both in Cleveland and San Francisco and which ended in May.
Lalique would often make variations of his great jewelry designs, using and re-using similar implementations of the same motif to create unique objects. In this example, Lalique created objects with different uses and size, but both retain the look and feel so to speak, of the original artistic creation. A study of these two great objects shows not just the influence of Art Nouveau on Lalique’s jewelry, but also how the same basic design was adapted by Lalique to different purposes, not just of use, but also of effect.
Here are two short videos, one taken at the Gulbenkian showing some of the works of Lalique on exhibit there, and another taken at an exhibition of some of the Art Nouveau masterpieces of the Hermitage. Both videos show the Lalique Serpents Jewelry owned by the respective museum.
The Bible of Lalique’s Jewelry, Rene Lalique Schmuck und Objects d’art 1890-1910 by Sigrid Barten shows several variations of this great Serpents design. It’s of course available in our Rene Lalique Books and Library Section on modern books about Rene Lalique and his R Lalique works. In this Library section and others, you will also find various books and catalogues on Lalique’s jewelry, the hardback edition of the great Artistic Luxury Exhibition book, as well as several different publications documenting the Gulbenkian’s RLalique collection.
*Pectoral really means breast-plate, and is used to describe what in effect is a really big brooch. Think brooch on steroids!
Rene Lalique and his R Lalique glass, jewelry and other creations, are being highlighted this year at a Rene Lalique Retrospective Exhibition in Tokyo Japan celebrating the 150 year anniversary of his birth.
We previously wrote about this great Rene Lalique Museum Exhibition back in April, before its opening in late June, and now it is in full swing. The Exhibition will be at the National Art Center in Tokyo until September 7th, and then moves to the MOA Museum of Art from September 15th to November 23rd. The Exhibition features over 400 works of the great Rene Lalique contributed to the Exhibition by museums and collectors worldwide. These works encompass the entire range of his output from cire perdue and unique objects, to jewelry, vases, car mascots, boxes, seals, perfume bottles, and more. It’s a great overall look at the designs and accomplishments of this amazing man.
Here is a video of the exhibition that is put to music. You can click the box in the lower right of the video screen below and it will put the video in full screen mode!
If you are traveling Japan in the next several months, this Exhibition is a fabulous opportunity to see so many of the great works of Rene Lalique, so much R Lalique, in once place, including many unique items that you may never have another chance to see in person.
The short version is, they were shipped by boat:), but as usual the whole story is a bit more complicated! We’ll try and keep it brief as usual.
In 1852, Meiji the Great, destined to be the 122nd Emperor of Japan was born with the name Mutsuhito. His birth was less than a year before Admiral Perry would arrive on the scene. In 1867 at the age of 14, he became Emperor of Japan. He had no children with his wife, but had 15 kids with 5 different official consorts. Only five of his children survived childhood. The one of the five we are interested in is Princess Nobuko, the eighth daughter of the Emperor. In 1910 she married the royal Prince Yasuhiko, also an eighth child, who four years earlier had established the Imperial Family of Asaka!
In the early 1920’s, the Prince headed off to Paris for military studies. There he was seriously injured in a car accident in 1923. His wife came to Paris to help nurse him back to health, and they both were still in Paris in 1925 when the 1925 Exposition Internationale Des Arts Decoratifs took the world by storm. Apparently, it took the Asaka family by storm as well, and the new art deco style, decoratif art in everyday life, caught their fancy.
In 1929, they began work on an Art Deco residence in Tokyo that was completed in 1933. While the Ministry of Imperial Household oversaw the design and construction, the input of several of the great French decorative arts practitioners, notably Rene Lalique, and to a larger degree Henri Rapin (to whom the Prince entrusted the interior design of 7 of the rooms), made the house a model of modernist art deco restraint and style. The architectural contributions of Rene Lalique included the glass panel doors, and the chandeliers in the dining hall and grand guest room.
Fast forward through a war, the Asaka Family in 1947 lost it’s membership in the Imperial Household, the residence was taken over by the government and put to various government uses, and finally, it was turned over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation For History and Culture, which opened the doors of the Asaka residence as the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in 1983. The Asaka residence had wonderful grounds surrounding it, hence the addition of the word “Teien”, meaning park or gardens, to the name of the museum.
And that is why the great doors and chandeliers of Rene Lalique still exist in their original home today, along with other decorative R Lalique objects, all preserved in the museum.
Over the years, the museum has held many exhibitions, including a great Rene Lalique exhibition in 1988 that is documented extensively in the catalogue book of the exhibition containing about 200 very high quality R Lalique photos. A copy of this rare catalogue book from the exhibition at the former Asaka residence is available in the Rene Lalique Books and Library Section.
What happened to Prince Asaka, the creator of the great art deco residence? He served in the military during World War II (not without some controversy), making the rank of General. After the war he moved to the small city of Atami south of Tokyo where he became an avid golfer. He lived to the age of 93, passing away in 1981!
And why are we telling you all this now? Well, it’s great R Lalique history, and more importantly, we stumbled across a peaceful video of the museum, which takes you thru a personal video tour, including looks at some of the works of Rene Lalique which are installed and housed at the former Asaka residence. A relaxing look at the works of the great Rene Lalique at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum.
Rene Lalique Jewelry and Unique R Lalique Objects from 1900 and earlier are the focus of the Lalique Exhibition (and a couple of other guys stuff as well) titled Artistic Luxury, which we have written about several times previously in this R Lalique Blog (Lalique Exhibitions). This great Lalique Exhibition started out in Cleveland at the world class Cleveland Museum of Art, and moved earlier this year to the Legion of Honor Museum near the Bay in San Francisco where it will remain on view until May 31st.
What a great opportunity on so many levels. First and foremost was the chance to see some amazing unique R.Lalique objects that we may never have a chance to see again. And conveniently, we have been promising the whole staff here at RLalique.com some well earned all expense paid travel, for the great work on the website. Even more conveniently, San Francisco is but a short flight from the Arizona desert, but a world away in too many ways to recount fully in this article. A great vibrant City with hustle and bustle, crowds, traffic, noise, high rise buildings, and a really big body of water close at hand. None of these things are associated too often with our usual surroundings; the Sonoran Desert. All things considered, we had a trifecta of great excuses to shut things down for a week, and head to the hills (literally and figuratively).
So, RLalique.com journeyed en masse and incognito (that’s right – incognito – so no press conferences, no scholarly lectures, no private tours, no autographs, no glad handing of Museum personnel, no local TV appearances, and no photos of our wonderful staff, 🙂 for a great tourist visit to the exhibition.
We encamped in toto at the first great hotel in the heart of the City that was able to set aside, in spite of our last minute request, the floor of view rooms we needed (see photo from the floor window). And in moments, RLalique.com World Headquarters West was rolling. With the flip of just one electronic switch, the mountain of Lalique information from thousands of places around the globe that daily pours into the desert oasis that we usually call home, was re-routed across hill and valley, freeway, lake, and mountain, and dumped onto the top floor of our new temporary lodgings. And of course, in between 10 miles a day of walking, 50 cable car rides, a highlight tour of San Francisco Steakhouses (well, the tour was one stop per day at the dinner hour and was self conducted), as well as Muir Woods, Napa, Sonoma, Fisherman’s Wharf, Knob Hill, Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury (yes, there is still the smell of marijuana in the street),
Golden Gate Park (who says the homeless have no home… they are at home – in Golden Gate Park, and we spent a lot more time talking to the people in the park than to anyone else on the trip with the exception of a nice couple from Devon England discussed below), the Japanese Gardens (green tea with sweet and spicy treats in the finest outdoor garden atmosphere), Castro Street and Alcatraz (expected to see some people we know there, but turns out they closed the prison a while back and don’t have any criminals there anymore), and other activities that are but a San Francisco foggy memory in the blur of an insane tourist adventure, we managed to spend several hours at the exhibition. And yes, that is the longest run-on sentence we could construct.
Of course we didn’t forget that we walked the Golden Gate Bridge one end to the other and back, our group joined by a honeymooning couple from Devon England that we met while hanging out on the pier. Above is a photo of Mr. Incognito himself, contemplating the distant Golden Gate Bridge from his perch on the Alcatraz Ferry in San Francisco Bay while pondering the upcoming traverse!
A small side note to the Fisherman’s Wharf visit. Our newest intern, a refugee from an east coast institution of higher learning (higher on what we have know idea), smarmily whispered to another staff member upon arrival at the Wharf: “Now I know why we’re here, those must be Lalique Seals!” Will Rogers famously remarked that it takes most people at least five years to get over a college education. NI (newest intern) might take a bit longer!
Which brings us to the first mistake of trip. Landing in typical San Francisco bad weather on a Tuesday morning (see the accompanying photo of the Golden Gate Bridge – OH! You can’t see the bridge? That’s because it’s totally foggy, a rather persistent condition apparently in SF, and to be fair to the weather, maybe cold, wet and foggy is considered good weather up there, don’t really know), we headed over to the exhibition after a great lunch in a small neighborhood establishment in one of the run down areas of town where the locals are great and the food is better, AND we were the only tourists in sight. Of course, in a re-enactment of a longstanding San Francisco tradition, it took longer to find parking spaces for the RLalique.com convoy than to eat lunch. But it was worth it. The sun broke thru the clouds for 7 minutes and 46 seconds as we enjoyed sidewalk dining (well, technically we were eating off of tables and not the actual sidewalk) at its finest. Seriously, a few small tables, great food and great service. Sorry, but the restaurant is so small we cannot give out the name here, as with our extensive world wide audience, the place would be over-run in days, all the locals and regulars would be crowded out, and when the excitement died down, the owners would have a bunch of mad locals that found somewhere else to hang out and our endorsement would be a curse instead of a blessing. And most importantly, when we make our way back up north for SF II, sequel to the movie, at some point in the next decade or two, the restaurant might not be there anymore for our encore appearance if all of the above occurred! So we promised the owners that we would not spill the beans.
Anyway, off to the Legion of Honor Museum we go, the entire RLalique.com caravan sans police escort (think incognito), making only one detour along the way to peruse the lodgings at some upscale little housing development along the water. We arrive in the drizzle of course, only to find out that Tuesday is FREE admittance day to the museum. That is the good news. The bad news was a bit bigger. First, FREE museum does not mean FREE exhibition! Apparently, the basement of the museum is not part of the FREE area. OK, the $10 “Special Exhibition” charge was obviously no big deal and was half what we expected to spend on each ticket, BUT it turns out that to save the regular museum charge of $10, which would have been on top of the Special Exhibition charge of $10, a lot of San Francisco people go to the Exhibition on FREE Tuesday to pay half the normal total price of admission. So it was crowded. Which is a good thing in the big R Lalique picture, but which caused some minor inconvenience in viewing each of the great items close up and in the preferred casual and relaxed manner. And to think they had other people there! Hmmmmmm! At first, we thought the crowd was there because word of our visit had leaked, and the staff opinion is still split 50/50 about whether a leak occurred or not. It’s still one of the many great unknowns of the trip.
Notwithstanding the mob scene and the true reasons for the huge crowd, it was a great assemblage of amazing R.Lalique objects, which half the staff feels is probably why there was mob scene! And here is a photo of your humble correspondent in deep thought over this whole perplexing “Leak or Lalique” situation (as it came to be known by our security staff), while sitting in front of the Legion of Honor Entrance!
Ignoring those other guys whose stuff was on exhibit, the Rene Lalique items were GREAT! What can you say about the apparently unique black glass scarab vase with the rust red coating lent to the exhibition by the Musee des Art Decoratifs in Paris, which acquired it directly from Rene Lalique in 1911 for 1000 French Francs? Which was sitting right there next to the unique Grenouilles Et Nenuphars Vase recently acquired by the Cleveland Museum for it’s permanent collection (having sold at Christies New York in December 2006 on a very cold New York day)!
The coolest and most striking Rene Lalique object was the “sugar bowl” owned by the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon. The body is constructed of writhing serpents, with glass blown inside the open serpent framework, and sporting an incorporated lid. The entire staff of RLalique.com unanimously voted this to be the one object most needed to compliment our World Headquarters Tea Set. No sugar, no tea you know. Of course we would purchase this great Lalique unique object in two seconds if it came up for sale, which is easy to say in the most braggadocio fashion because the Gulbenkian doesn’t sell it’s works of Rene Lalique! 🙂
The Lalique Jewelry (yes, and the Lalique jewellery) was fantastic as well, and there was a lot more Rene Lalique unique jewelry than unique objects. Amazing items, delicate in a way that Lalique’s contemporaries did not match, and stylish and refined in a way no one has ever equaled! Fabulous all ’round. And we all still want to meet a beautiful woman wearing a large and unique Rene Lalique ‘bodice ornament”.
If you have time before the 31st, it’s a wonderful trip and a great opportunity to view some of the finest output of the great Rene Lalique. Where else do you see the lily of the valley at the museum and at the Japanese Garden on the same day?
And of course, if you want to purchase the catalogue book of the Exhibition, the amazing 372 page complete hardback version with great color illustrations and some highly insightful commentary, just visit the Rene Lalique Books Library right here at RLalique.com and check it out, along with the other fabulous Rene Lalique exhibition books and catalogues we have assembled and made available to you from around the world.
Rene Lalique: A Retrospective Exhibition of the works of Lalique Opens in Tokyo on June 24th: The National Art Center in Tokyo Japan is the first of two stops for a great exhibition of the R.Lalique works of Rene Lalique. The exhibition features rare Lalique glass items including important Cire Perdues, unique Lalique jewelry, and other works contributed by many Japanese and international museums including the Kitazawa Museum of Art, the Izu Glass and Craft Museum, the Omura Art Museum, Kobe Fashion Museum, the Toyota Automobile Museum, the Shonan Enoshima Perfume Bottle Museum, the Narita Museum, the Gulbenkian (see pictured Cire Perdue), the Musee D’Orsay (see pictured hat pin) and others. The exhibition will be at the National Art Center in Tokyo thru September 7th, when it will move to the MOA Museum of Art in Japan from September 15th to November 23rd. We will bring you more news and details as they become available.
Note that many of the museums that will contribute to this great Lalique Exhibition, have wonderful museum books or catalogues containing their collections of Rene Lalique works. A good number of these out of print books and catalogues cannot be found anywhere in the world except in the R Lalique Exhibition Books and Catalogues Section of the R Lalique Library here at RLalique.com. We expect that we will be adding the Rene Lalique catalogue book of this great Lalique Exhibition to our extensive inventory when it’s available.
Lalique, Faberge and Tiffany Exhibition Catalog Essay by Stephen Harrison is awarded the 2008 Smith Award for the most distinguished article in decorative arts in 2008: Stephen Harrison, curator of the Lalique, Faberge, and Tiffany Exhibition Artistic Luxury, was one of two recipients for the year 2008 to receive the Smith Award for most distinguished decorative arts articles. The essay, which appeared in the catalogue of the exhbition, was entitled: Artistic Luxury in the Belle Époque. Stephen Harrison is the Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and was the organizer and driving force behind this great exhibition, which is now at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco thru May 31st! See our previous post on this Great Exhibit of Lalique (and some other stuff :). The Smith Award, honors the career of Doctor Robert Smith, who was a professor and noted art historian at the University of Pennsylvania, a place not unfamiliar to this writer, though there was not much art talk at the Wharton School :). Industry awards, such as the Smith Award, serve to focus the trade, collectors, museums, and the media on particular segments of the decorative arts field. Having one such award go to a Lalique related essay, is a wonderful thing for publicizing the works of the great Rene Lalique. By the way, it’s not hard to imagine how Mr. Harrison was inspired, looking at the unbelievable glass, enamel and gold poppy pendant necklace shown here, which was lent to the exhibition by the Toledo Museum of Art. For more information about the award and the Decorative Arts Society, you can visit their website.
Rene Lalique Museum Exhibition Video Tour: Here is a great Rene Lalique Exhibition Video Tour in French, of the works of the great Rene Lalique from Luxe TV. The video documents the fabulous L’Exposition Lalique held in 2007 in Paris at the Musee du Luxembourg and in Berlin at the Brohan Museum in late 2007 and early 2008. The Lalique Exhibition, titled Rene Lalique Exceptional Jewellery 1890-1912 contained not just great and unique Lalique jewelry, but also some unique and other early glass works and objects including a couple amazing unique Rene Lalique Vases. The total number of Rene Lalique objects in the Exhbition was over 300. The video features Olivier Mauny, who at the time was the President Director General of The Lalique Crystal Company, and Yvonne Brunhammer, author and editor of several books and catalogs on the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods including several on Rene Lalique. She is the editor of the Official Exhibition Catalogue Book: Rene Lalique Exceptional Jewellery 1890-1912, which is a profusely illustrated oversized reference book concerning the Lalique Exhibition, as well as a substantial commentary and history about Rene Lalique and his works. There are several versions of this book with different amounts of content. The largest and the complete version (in English) which is 286 pages, is available in the Lalique Library here at RLalique.com in the section on Rene Lalique Museum and Exhibition Books. You can find out a lot more about Rene Lalique and his works in the Rene Lalique Biography Section here at RLalique.com.
The Luxury of Rene Lalique: Unique Drawings and Objects: 1900-1930, is the title of a wonderful selling exhibition of the works of the great Rene Lalique being held at San Francisco’s world renowned Montgomery Gallery to coincide with the major exhibition of the works of Lalique, Faberge and Tiffany at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum (see previous post for details). The exhibition represents the largest assemblage of original Rene Lalique drawings ever shown together in the United States. In addition, there are wonderful glass objects including an Amber Suzanne Statue, and both Suzanne and Thais Statues in opalescent glass. The Montgomery Gallery has a great international reputation and is an extremely high quality place to showcase Lalique’s works. Additional information is available on the gallery website, by calling the gallery at 415-788-8300, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The exhibition is now open and runs through March 28th. It adds yet another reason to visit San Francisco this Spring (so says the Oracle)!
Lalique Exhibition in San Francisco: The fabulous Exhibition “Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique”, which was at the Cleveland Museum of Art for many months, opened on February 7th at the San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Musuem. Here is a Local News Video Interview of Curator Martin Chapman in San Francisco showing some great highlights from the Exhibition (You may have to click on the 2nd photo insert to get the video going, and watch a short ad. You can increase the video window size by clicking on the box to the right of the volume icon). The Exhibition will run thru May 31st, and we highly recommend that every Rene Lalique collector that didn’t see the Exhibition in Cleveland make a visit if possible. There are many unique R Lalique objects on display. You don’t get to handle them, but there are Rene Lalique vases, jewelry and other one-of-kind tems on exhibit that you may never have a chance to view again. Here is a link to our previous post from the middle of last year announcing this wonderful Exhibition of Lalique!
Visiting the Legion of Honor
The Legion of Honor displays a collection of over 4,000 years of ancient and European art and houses the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts in a Beaux-Arts style building overlooking Lincoln Park and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Address: Lincoln Park, 34th Avenue and Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 94121, 415-750-3600
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 9:30 am–5:15 pm; closed on Monday
Admission: $20 – Adults $17 – Seniors
$16 – Youths 13–17 and Students with college I.D.
Members and children 12 and under are free.
($10 admission for permanent collection only)
General admission is free the first Tuesday of every month ($10 surcharge for Artistic Luxury still applies). Information: legionofhonor.org