Wednesday 29 June 2022

Rene Lalique at the Gulbenkian, Lisbon

Rene Lalique at the Gulbenkian, Lisbon.

The collection comprises almost two hundred pieces purchased by Calouste Gulbenkian directly from Rene Lalique, between 1899 and 1927. The particular focus is the Art Nouveau period.

The eccentricity and fragility of Rene Lalique jewellery made it unwearable for most women of the Belle Epoque, with the exception of some figures from the financial and artistic elite, like the actress Sarah Bernhardt. Calouste Gulbenkian bought them however, to display in showcases in his mansion.

Breathtakingly beautiful, these jewellery pieces dating from the early 20th century perfectly illustrate the jeweller's uniqueness and sense of observation coupled with a highly fanciful imagination.  Lalique is considered to be the inventor of modern jewellery, breaking away from the statuesque and soulless jewellery of the time. Bodice pieces, chokers and combs highlight the originality of materials, never or little used until then in jewellery, such as horn, ivory, translucent enamel, glass and ornamental stones. The delight in exploring the glassy depths of moonstone would later inspire Lalique's research into glass. 

My photographs don't do justice to these extraordinary works: the room was dark and all the pieces were in glass cabinets, so it was very difficult to take decent photographs.


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