It’s not taken a great deal of thought for me to come up with a subject for today’s piece, as 6th April is the birthdate of René Lalique, the designer and producer of sumptuous art glass pieces, and my personal favourite from the panoply of great craftsmen who chose glass as their preferred medium.

It’s not my place to recount Lalique’s life story – there are many resources which will provide you with such ‘nuts and bolts’ – but I did think that I’d try to explain quite why it is that I find his works so captivating.

There are two real defining reasons; firstly, his extraordinary vision when it comes to divining what it is that encapsulates the essence of whatever it might be that he is looking to represent, and to then have the acuity to be able to convey this sense of being through his absolute mastery of craftsmanship – breathing life in to inanimate substrates such as metal or glass.

This is perhaps best illustrated by the pieces he produced based on subjects drawn from nature – be it animal, vegetable or mineral. His appreciation of the animal form must have been akin to the way in which someone like Sir David Attenborough can absorb the nuances of structure and form with an innate understanding. You must have to be, for instance, quite the expert entomologist to be able to imagine how best to recreate the wings of a dragonfly or the textures on a beetle’s carapace; to also have the technical ability to then effect the recreation with such perfection, starting from such unprepossessing raw materials, almost defies belief, and any use of the word genius when considering Lalique’s work is in no way out of place. And that’s to say nothing of his pieces that are based on the human form, which are equally breathtaking.

I’m also awestruck by the breadth of René’s body of work. From starting out with superbly intricate jewellery, then small-scale glass jewels and cabochons to enhance such diminutive pieces, he went on – by way of perfume bottles – to create not only his signature ‘display size’ art glass sculptures, but furniture and even architectural pieces such as full height door panel inserts, what were essentially ‘iron railings’ (although cast in the form of ‘sensually sculpted winged maidens’ as you might expect), and all the way up to moulded ceiling panels and huge pendant light fittings for ocean-going liners. From the absolutely sublime to the not-at-all ridiculous, stopping at all stations en route – what extraordinary versatility !

I’m delighted to say that not only do my colleagues at ScottishAntiques.com share my appreciation of Lalique’s work, but so do our partners down at the Pantiles Arcade – Jeroen Markies and David Hickmet. We have all been long-term fans of Lalique, and now that we are all under one roof, are able to offer a really quite remarkable collection of pieces for sale. So much so, in fact, that we have attracted the benevolent scrutiny of the current curator of Lalique’s UK interests, the inimitable Mr Frederick Fischer. I am pleased to say that our efforts have passed muster, and we trade on the great man’s good name with the blessings of those who currently protect this most illustrious of trademarks.

And so I have no hesitation in raising a toast to René Lalique on this, the anniversary of his birth – I must just go and check if we still have any of his exquisite Phalsbourg or Fontainbleau wine glasses on display, as after all, I may as well do it properly….