Saturday, 21 January 2012

An extraordinary baroque pearl pendant by LALIQUE

When Rene Lalique presented seventeen pieces and four drawings in 1985 at the Salon des Artistes in Paris the jewellery world went upside down. Not only was a pioneer and created the Art Nouveau style, he was a true rebel and questioned all the basic principles that had grounded jewellery for centuries: A piece should be valued for the artistry of its design and its colour harmony more than for the price of the precious metals and stones it displayed. And he went further, to prove it, his designs used all kind of affordable semi precious stones, enamel and unconventional materials like ivory or tortoiseshell. At the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900 he was already revered as a Modernist genius and the style had rapidly expanded across Europe and the US. By 1905 the Art Nouveau movement had disappeared; it died of its own success, the "cheapness" of the materials attracted many craftsmen, artists and jewellers that could not have afforded entering the trade otherwise, they were driven by an unprecedented demand also caused by the prices. Thus, a huge number of replicas and uninteresting cheap versions of Lalique's work flooded the market and the style was then dismissed by the elite.

Only Lalique's creations and those a few others like George Fouquet, Gaillard, Henry Vever Wolfers or Louis Comfort Tiffany have survived as true masterpieces. The pendant above is a great example of this and it is part of a small collection of important Art Nouveau pieces that will be auctioned at Sotheby's New York on february 9th.