Born and raised in a creative atmosphere dedicated to decorative arts, Suzanne Lalique (1892-1989) was encouraged by her father René, the well-known designer of jewelry and glassware, to participate in the family enterprise. From 1920 to 1930, a large part of the Lalique glass production was inspired by her watercolors, that reveal her passion for nature and the vegetal world. She quickly became the art deco muse of the family business, bringing it fully into a productive golden era, through her great sense of stylization, her artistic skill in developing geometric shapes and mixing all sources of inspiration.[i]
This vase was created in 1926. Its design is perfectly adapted to the technical creativity of the Lalique workshop, and illustrates an ingenious combination of mass-production and handcrafting techniques: the heavy-pressed glass vessel, its body both carved and acid etched, makes the faceted surface appear as a blurred background, giving the illusion of moving water. It contrasts with the embossed curves enhanced by the smooth and shiny application of black enamel, a painterly technique highly appreciated by Suzanne Lalique, which she integrated into most of her glass compositions. This black glazing characterizes her personal touch in the pieces retailed by Lalique during the 1920s.
The spiny curves of the vase, reminiscent of the vegetal world, come from her passion for flowers and trees that we also find in her decorative screens inspired by Japanese art, and in her watercolors and designs for textiles or ceramics.
This vase is a small universe in itself, and works as a complete and entire work of art, independent of its original function as a vessel. Today, it could be considered as a kind of sculpture. Developed in endless whirlwinds, the black spiny spirals emerge on the surface of the blurred background. Through this effect the glasswork conveys the ideas of water, vegetal forms and motion in a single object.
There is no need to add real flowers; those in the body of the vase will swirl there forever.
Hélène Leroy is a French trainee-curator from the Institut National du Patrimoine, currently an intern in the Product Design and Decorative Arts Department. She has a Masters in the History of Art and Museology from the École du Louvre, and a Masters in French Literature from the University Paris IV-Sorbonne.
[i] For more information about Suzanne Lalique and her work see : Suzanne Lalique-Haviland. Le décor réinventé, under the supervision of Jean-Marc Ferrer, Limoges, Les Ardents Editeurs, 2012.