What Is a Lalique Vase?

M.C. Huguelet

A Lalique vase is a flower container made by the French glassware company Lalique. This company was founded by René Lalique in the late 19th century, and continues to be operational as of the early 21st century. Lalique vases are made from glass or crystal which may be clear or colored, and often feature Art Nouveau- or Art Deco-style motifs as well as hand-etching and enameling. As of the 21st century, early examples of these vases are highly prized by collectors.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The Lalique glassware company was founded in Paris by glass and jewelry designer René Lalique in the late 19th century. At first, Lalique worked alone, producing vases, jewelry, perfume bottles, and other decorative objects using a method in which molds were made from wax models, resulting in one-of-a-kind pieces. As Lalique’s work gained popularity in Europe and North America in the early years of the 20th century, he opted to expand his business, buying a factory, hiring a staff of glassworkers, and replacing the time-consuming wax modeling technique for a press molding process which enabled the production of large quantities of identical glassware.

For the first four decades of the 20th century, one of the firm’s most popular items was the Lalique vase. A typical Lalique vase from this period is made from glass which is either clear or colored. It features nature-inspired motifs, such as flowers or fish, which are stylized in the Art Nouveau or, in later models, the Art Deco fashion. While these vases were generally produced in large numbers using the press molding technique, they were often finished with some form of hand detailing, such as etching or enameling.

When René Lalique died in 1945, his son Marc assumed control of the company. Under Marc’s control, the company continued to produce versions of the Lalique vase, albeit with one important change: Marc favored using delicate crystal instead of glass. The company remained family-owned until 2008, when it was bought by the Swiss firm Art & Fragrance. Under the Art & Fragrance ownership, Lalique periodically releases reissues of its classic vases.

Although many decades have passed since the Lalique vase first became popular, it remains an esteemed decorative object highly prized by many collectors. An original Art Nouveau or Art Deco Lalique vase in mint condition can attract significant sums at auctions. Antiques professionals warn, however, that counterfeit Lalique vases are in fairly wide circulation, and that those interested in purchasing a vase should thus consult an expert to ensure it is authentic.

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