Master jeweller and glass artist René Lalique (1860–1945) never lost sight of the nature he encountered around Aÿ-en-Champagne, the town in northeastern France where he was raised. After moving to Paris and working as an independent designer for Boucheron and other Parisian jewellers, he opened his first boutique in 1885 and revealed the true depth of his artistry. Choosing materials for their power, light and colour, he borrowed techniques from other decorative arts and brought the plants and animals of his childhood into his work. The effect was revolutionary. Fearlessly, Lalique combined glass, enamel and semi-precious stones with precious metals such as gold, while creating Art Nouveau pieces that included spellbinding flora and fauna. In his work for leading French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923), he twice designed jewels to be used in her role as the formidable Empress Theodora. Lalique remained so fond of these designs that he later created this Medusa-inspired ring. It comes at us full force, the thick gold accented with lush enamel and formed glass, snake fangs protecting the wearer and Medusa’s intense gaze ready to calcify men.
22 September | New York
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