After the success and innovations which marked the year of the 'Exposition Universelle' of Paris in 1900, René Lalique organized two exhibitions of his pieces in London: the first one in 1903 at the Crafton gallery and the second one in 1905 at the T. Agnew & Sons gallery.
One of the masterpieces presented to the London public was a silver embossed centre piece with an oval plateau from which emerged water-spouting Tritons, surrounded by a nymph emerging from the billows, her nudity delicately hidden by flowers. The original model of this sculpture was kept by René Lalique. He wanted to convert this piece into glass, adapting the technique of the investment casting (created by bronze makers) to the technique of the sculpture in the round creating the sculpture 'Figure femme et guirlande de fleurs'.
In 1898, René Lalique installed his glassmaking forge in Clairefontaine, in the park of the 'Chateau de la Voisine', on the edge of the Rambouillet forest. Helped and guided by the famous technician Louis Appert, Lalique experimented and researched the techniques of sculpting glass in the round. At the time, the risk of breakage was significant, and only twenty percent of these extraordinary and complicated pieces were saved. Their size and the complexity of their shape made them all the more fragile, and few of them survived the fusion process, explaining the small amount of successful production.
As far as we can remember, the present work has always belonged to Marie-Claude Lalique. She had found it in the casting atelier at the back of her grandfather's house. The studio's high ceiling permitted Lalique to construct a mezzanine, and the steel spiral staircase incorporated the sculpture as a finial. Rescued and restored by Marie-Claude, this sculpture represented, for her, the most important work of her grandfather.
The statue represented here is therefore a unique work. Moulded directly on the original silver centerpiece, its incredibly realistic shape, both sensual and vigorous, allows one to see every detail of the flower petals, of the undulating hair, of the beauty of the face. We can even make out the artist's fingerprints, slightly present in the wax used to surround the model for the glass cast. This spectacular statue, both light and delicate, perfect in its design and exceptional artistic value, is testimony to Lalique's creativity as a master of glassmaking.
Cire perdue with original blue and gray patine
17 1/8 in. (43.5 cm) high
Paul Bayle, "Chez Lalique," L'Art Decoratif, 1905, p. 209 (for a related centerpiece executed in silver)
"The Lalique Exhibition," International Studio, 1905, p. 127 (for a related centerpiece executed in silver)
The Art of René Lalique, London, 1928, p. 7 (for a related statuette)
Catalogue de Verreries de René Lalique, Paris, 1932, pl. 81 (for a related statuette)
Nicholas Dawes, Lalique Glass, New York, 1986, p. 10 (for a related statuette)
Patricia Bayer and Mark Waller, The Art of René Lalique, Edison, NJ, 1988, p. 95 (for a related statuette)
Marie-Claude Lalique, Paris
Thierry de Maigret, Paris, June 30, 2005, lot 99 (purchased privately)