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Living with and Loving Lalique

When author j2999ie Levy Martin and her old friend, Martin Tujague, suggested we visit the René Lalique exhibit which just opened a couple of weeks ago, I JUMPED at the chance. The Musée du Luxembourg has a rather liberal schedule, surprisingly open every day of the week at least until 7 p.m. and two nights of the week (Monday and Friday) until 10 p.m. Even holidays, this museum, dictated by the French Ministry of Culture and the Senate, remains open to the public!

Quelle chance! Lalique crystal has always been my favorite of all the other crystal manufacturers — Baccarat, Swarovski, and the myriad of others. The delicate Art Nouveau style always attracted me…perhaps the side more feminine or fantastic.

René Lalique broke all esthetic tradition when, at the end of the 20th-century, he invented what Emile Gallé termed as “modern jewelry.” Taking it’s place among the genre of “Art Nouveau,” and thanks to the incorporation of new techniques, rarely used materials and his own invention of a vast repertoire of iconographic images and topics, Lalique developed a single art form, crossing between applied arts, poetry, painting and literature.

There are approximately 150 works — jewels, glassmaking, photographs, paintings, drawings, realized between 1880 and 1910 by both Lalique and his contemporaries, coming from museum and private collections all over the world.

“The result is an unique kind where women, flowers, plants, insects and women-insects, dragons, meets for a poisonous style which sometimes evokes the funeral in the soft forms of the Art nouveau. This funeral feature come from symbolism inspiration and becomes less important by the material work. Gold, diamonds, turquoise, opals, amethysts, enamel work, pearls are animated by shines, transparencies, engravings. Certain jewels surprise by their dimensions and their exuberance like this theater headband which the enormous flowers transforms any actress into traveling window box. We shall prefer to this spectacular works, the discreet sensual delight of a necklace “Mistletoe” or the small pendants in translucent enamels. The exhibition also presents a large number of drawings of jewels realized by René Lalique, some glassware and ancient Japanese objets d’art. At the end of the exhibit, we can notably see some Mucha‘s posters, Gallé’s glassware and Vever’s jewels.”– from a blog at

I couldn’t have said it better. In typical French style, the display is brilliantly executed. Each work is absolutely breathtaking and beautifully displayed. It was difficult to decide if I preferred the drawings of the jewelry over the jewelry itself. They are so refined, detailed and delicate.

I fantasized
about being Sarah Bernhardt who wore so much of it so well, remembering when I was very young all the times my parents would jokingly nickname me “Sarah” when acting a bit melodramatic.

We couldn’t wait to run to the gift shop to see what was in store, discovering innovatively designed clear plastic post cards on which his beautiful images are printed allowing the light to shine through them, as the precious jewels do so well. There are a number of high quality printed reproductions for under 10€ including one by Le Guide Officiel that dons a holographic image on the front of his piece titled “Quatre Libellules” made of topaz, diamonds and enamel.

Then I ran home and put on my Masque de Femme Lalique ring that now has more meaning than ever.

René Lalique Bijoux d’Exception 1890-1912
March 7 – July 29, 2007
Musée du Luxembourg, 19, rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris
Open: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday, Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday and public holidays : 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Full price: 10€. Reduced price: 8€ (young people from 10 to 25 years, professors of plastic arts, handicapped persons). Free for the children less than 10 years, journalists, guides, lecturers. Audio-guide: 4,50€

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds

Editor, Parler Paris

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