Lalique in Lisbon! The Gulbenkian Museum Collection of the Work of Rene Lalique

Rene Lalique "Dragonfly Woman" Corsage Ornament 1897-1898 Gold, Enamel, Chrysoprase, Chalcedony, Moonstones and Diamonds

Rene Lalique "Dragonfly Woman" Corsage Ornament 1897-1898

Gold, Enamel, Chrysoprase, Chalcedony, Moonstones and Diamonds

"Only the best is good enough for me.”

Tucked away in the last little exhibition room at the end of the labyrinthine corridors of Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Museum is a collection of tiny artefacts beautiful enough to make God jealous. I had no idea what I was in for. A long-time Art Nouveau aficionado and Mucha devotee, I had included Rene Lalique as only an adjunct god in my fin de siècle pantheon. But as I studied each miniature piece in sequence, a newfound shame began to descend upon me. How could I have neglected these most stunning examples of Art Nouveau master craftsmanship? How could I have ignored the scope and depth of the utter genius that was Rene Lalique?

Mr Calouste Gulbenkian had good taste, as is reflected in the lovely and varied collection of his art housed in Lisbon's Gulbenkian Museum. Its galleries are laid out in a sort of maze which channels visitors from culture to culture, through time and space, and features unbendingly beautiful examples of many a genre of art. At the end of the sumptuous peregrination, around a sharp corner, nearly hidden behind a wall, just before the gallery exit, the participant visitor is presented with the jewel in the crown: the Lalique Room.

As I surveyed the exhibition, I could not fathom how Lalique had been able to interpret natural forms into such beautiful composite ornaments. Had he witnessed Deity? Was his channel completely unencumbered? My mind seethed with desire as I soaked in exquisite visuals. I wanted to see the clear beauty which Lalique could obviously see. Even his sketches were beautiful. He had somehow managed to incorporate ethereal spirits into functional objects. Watery, cloud-coloured textures land themselves on paper and fill divinely inspired fields, somehow having travelled through mind and imagination into the visible universe.

Between 1899 and 1927 Calouste Gulbenkian (1869-1955) acquired eighty of Lalique’s works of art, and amassed the largest collection of his original jewelry pieces in existence. He is noted for saying "Only the best is good enough for me,” in reference to his vast hoard of high quality art. It is written that he was a friend of Rene Lalique for fifty years.

Art Nouveau to Art Deco

Rene Lalique was one of the few artists to successfully make the transition from Art Nouveau to Art Deco. The carry over of concepts from Art Nouveau to Art Deco allowed certain artists to bridge the gap between the two closely related styles; while the almost opposite natures they embodied prevented many from successfully making the transition.

It must be noted that neither Art Nouveau, nor Art Deco, were purely decorative styles. In fact, the ascription of a uniquely ornamental value to Art Nouveau goes against a core tenet of the expounders of late nineteenth century modernism. Art Nouveau had, after all, inherited from the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as from Aestheticism, the Japanese ideology of acknowledging a unity between the so-called fine and decorative arts.

According to one biographer:

In 1900 at the age of 40, he was the most celebrated jeweler in the world and an Art Nouveau artist and designer of magnificent proportions. But by 1925 at the height of the Art Deco era he was the most celebrated glassmaker in the world.

Rene Lalique is known to have fathered six children by several women. This perhaps brazen treatment of personal matters might be taken as a hint of a daring personality. Given the supreme talent it must have taken to create so many intricate and beautiful works of art, and the pure genius of many of his designs, it makes sense to attribute a sort of super ability to Rene Lalique. This may help to explain how he could have made such a fundamental shift from workshop artisan to industrialist producer, without much of a hitch.

Rene Lalique Exhibition Room Plaque Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal

Rene Lalique Exhibition Room Plaque

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal

Following are images showing every piece of the Lalique Collection housed at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Portugal. Clicking on a photo will isolate and enlarge it. Click outside the image to return to blog.

Rene Lalique
"Faun" Statuette
1919
Clear patinated glass

Rene Lalique
"Sea Girl Statuette",
1919
Clear patinated glass

Rene Lalique
"Vine and Figures Goblet"
c. 1899-1901
Glass, silver and bronze

Rene Lalique
"Grapevine Goblet"
c. 1898-1900
Nickel, glass, ivory and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Anemones Goblet"
Signed and dated "R. LALIQUE 1904"
Opalescent clear glass

Rene Lalique
"Female Figures Vase"
c. 1921
Clear patinated glass

Rene Lalique
Drawing for "Peacock Corsage Ornament"
Undated
Pencil, India ink and gouache on paper

Rene Lalique
"Peacock Corsage Ornament"
c. 1898-1900
Gold, enamel, opals and diamonds

Rene Lalique
Drawing for "Owls Bracelet"
Undated
Pencil, India ink and gouache on paper

Rene Lalique
"Owls Bracelet"
c. 1900-1901
Gold, glass, enamel and chalcedony

Rene Lalique
"Dancers Haircomb"
c. 1897-1898
Horn, ivory, gold and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Speedwells Bracelet"
c. 1900-1902
Gold, glass and enamel

 Rene Lalique Drawing for the "Anemones' Pendant Undated Pencil, India ink and gouache on paper

Rene Lalique
Drawing for the "Anemones' Pendant
Undated
Pencil, India ink and gouache on paper

Rene Lalique
"Anemones Haircomb"
c. 1900
Horn, gold and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Grasshoppers Necklace"
c. 1902-1903
Horn, tinplate and baroque pearls

Rene Lalique
Drawing for "Hydrangeas" hair grip
Undated
India ink and watercolor on paper

Rene Lalique
"Hydrangeas" hair grip
c. 1902-1903
Horn, gold, enamel and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"Dancers Pendant"
c. 1901
Glass, ivory, gold and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Eagles In Mulberry Branches" dog collar plaque
c. 1902-1903
Gold, glass, enamel and aquamarine

Rene Lalique
"Wooded Landscape" choker plaque
c. 1898-1899
Gold, opals, enamel and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"Thistle Pendant"
c 1898-1900
Glass, gold, enamel, moonstones, sapphires and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"Bears Comb"
c 1904
Horn, gold and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"The Kiss" brooch
c 1900 - 1902
Gold, ivory and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Pepper Tree Branch" hair comb
c 1903-1904
Horn and mother-of-pearl

Rene Lalique
"Fish and Naiads" clasp
c 1899-1901
Silver and ivory

Rene Lalique
"Wisteria" hair comb
c 1903-1904
Horn, gold, glass, enamel and diamonds

Rene Lalique
Drawing for "Hazel Branch" diadem
Undated
Pencil, India ink and gouache on paper

Rene Lalique
"Hazel Branch" diadem
c 1900-1902
Horn, gold, enamel, silver and moonstones

Rene Lalique
"Horseman" pendant
c 1900-1902
Gold, ivory, enamel and opals

Rene Lalique
"Female Face" pendant
c 1898-1900
Silver, enamel, glass and baroque pearl

Rene Lalique
"Serpents" corsage ornament
c 1898-1899
Gold and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Figures" buckle
c 1896-1898
Silver, gold

Rene Lalique
"Death of the Anemone" pendant
c 1900-1901
Gold, enamel and ivory

Rene Lalique
"Cats" choker
c 1906-1908
Rock crystal, gold and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"Woman Profile" choker plaque
c 1898-1900
Gold, chrysoprase and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Woman's Face" pendant
c 1900-1902
Gold, ivory, enamel, diamonds and sapphires

Rene Lalique
Drawing for "Nymph" pendant
Undated
Pencil, India ink and gouache on paper

Rene Lalique
"Nymph" pendant
c 1899-1900
Gold, enamel, ivory and agate

Rene Lalique
"The Capture of Dejanira" pendant
c 1900-1902
Gold, enamel, ivory and opal

Rene Lalique
"Breton Women" comb
c 1900-1902
Horn, ivory and silver

Rene Lalique
"Angels in Foliage" choker plaque
c 1901-1903
Gold, glass, enamel and aquamarine

Rene Lalique
"Two Lovers Kiss" hair comb
c 1902
Ivory

Rene Lalique
"Angel" brooch
c 1902
Gold, ivory, enamel, diamonds and jade

Rene Lalique
"Opals" brooch
c 1900-1902
Gold, ivory, enamel, diamonds and opals

Rene Lalique
"Figures in Pine Foliage" pendant
c 1899-1900
Gold, enamel, chrysoprase and emerald

Rene Lalique
"Water Nymphs" pendant
c 1900-1902
Gold, glass, enamel and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"Orchid" pendant
c 1899-1900
Gold, enamel and glass

Rene Lalique
"Acer Seeds" hair comb
c 1899-1900
Horn, chalcedony, onyx, gold and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Orchids" diadem
c 1903-1904
Horn, ivory, gold and citrine

Rene Lalique
Drawing for "Medallions and Pansies" comb
Undated
Pencil, India ink and gouache on paper

Rene Lalique
"Hawthorn Blossom" pendant
c 1899-1901
Gold, glass, enamel and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"Thistle Stalks" comb
c 1902
Horn and silver

Rene Lalique
"Aquamarine and Thistle Flowers" brooch
c 1905-1906
Gold, aquamarine, glass and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Thistle Stalks" brooch
c 1905-1906
Gold, glass, enamel, aquamarine and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"Rose Stems" corsage ornament
c 1904-1905
Gold, enamel, glass and amethyst

Rene Lalique
"Figures in Apple Tree Branches" pendant
c 1900-1901
Gold, enamel, ivory, sapphire and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"Medieval Figures" pendant
c 1900-1902
Gold, ivory, enamel, diamonds and sapphire

Rene Lalique
"Hawthorn Blossom" pendant
c 1899-1901
Gold, glass, enamel and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"Dragonfly Woman" corsage ornament
c 1897-1898
Gold, enamel, chrysoprase, chalcedony, moonstones and diamonds

Rene Lalique
"Cockerel" diadem
c 1897-1898
Gold, enamel, horn and amethyst

Rene Lalique
"Angels Frame"
Early 20th century
Amaranth Wood

Rene Lalique
"Medusa" paperweight
c 1902
Bronze and ivory

Rene Lalique
"Entwined Figures" paperweight
c 1902
Ivory, bronze and baroque pearls

Rene Lalique
"Serpents" sugar bowl
c 1897-1900
Silver and glass

Rene Lalique
"The Valkyrie" score binding
c 1893-1894
Morocco, ivory and silver

Rene Lalique
"Owls" box
c 1900-1901
Silver, glass and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Serpents" box
c 1900-1902
Copper, silver and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Female Figure" statuette
c 1901
Silver and ivory

Rene Lalique
Parasol handle
c 1899-1901
Horn and gold

Rene Lalique
Paper knife
c 1900
Ivory, gold and enamel

Rene Lalique
"Thistle" vase
c 1898-1900
Glass and silver

Rene Lalique
"Serpents" mirror
c 1899-1900
Bronze and mirror glass

Rene Lalique
"Doves" vase
c 1914
Clear patinated glass

Rene Lalique
"Parakeets" vase
c 1914
Clear patinated glass

Rene Lalique
"Roe Deer" vase
c 1920
Clear patinated glass

Rene Lalique
"Lizards" vase
c 1914
Clear patinated glass

Rene Lalique
"Lizards" vase [II]
c 1914
Clear patinated glass

Rene Lalique
"Horsemen" vase
c 1911
Clear patinated glass

Rene Lalique
"Mice and foliage background" vase
c 1913
Clear patinated glass

Rene Lalique
"Female Figure" centrepiece
c 1903-1905
Sliver and glass