Day Eleven – Dancing Girls – and absolutely no compunction about reproducing one of our previously used artefacts to illustrate today’s gift, as there really could not be anything more appropriate


Rene Lalique – famed producer of glass art during the early part of the 20th century. Having taken up an apprenticeship as a jeweller in 1876, Lalique showed an immediate and innate talent for his work and within five years was freelancing as a designer for the leading jewellery manufacturers in Paris. Shortly afterwards he was producing finished pieces in his own workshop, selling out of his own shop by 1890 and was already regarded as one of the foremost exponents of his craft. Pushing the boundaries of his own creativity, he then began working with glass, initially creating ornate bottles for exclusive Parisien perfumeries before gravitating towards pieces which were to be regarded as works of art in their own right with form alone being more important than any intended functionality.


The style of his work increasingly evoked fluidity and movement, with the distinctive opalescent glass he used being perfect for interaction with light to further enhance the dynamism of each piece. It was a characteristic that perfectly invoked the vibrancy, modernism and indulgent foibles of the Art Nouveau movement, and Lalique’s fame, reputation and renown grew exponentially – more so as he began to produce pieces which were deemed to be tending towards risqué or daring.


For all his innovative and contemporary perspectives, Lalique often looked to classical inspiration as the basis for his essentially naturalisitic work, and he did not shy away from using the female form as a component part of his designs, although representations of even classically inspired nudity had been considered wholly improper in the very recent past. Rene, however, embraced the fact that the seamless curves and opulent contours of luxurient nakedness were ideally suited to his preferred medium of smooth, lustrous glass.


This perfect fusion of form and material is rarely more pleasingly presented than in Lalique’s vases that feature the Bacchantes – naked or near-naked dancing girls from antiquity, all sensuous, fluid movement and palpable lubricity. The nudity was Lalique’s own imperative - the original Bacchantes of legend were invariable portrayed as being clothed in fawn skins. State of dress or undress notwithstanding they were, however, the ultimate party girls.


Described as being in “a state of ecstatic frenzy through a combination of maniacal dancing and intoxication” they would attempt to incite each other into a growing hysteria until they reached a point at which they would temporarily become at one with the gods and experience a vision of what waited for them in the eternal bliss of the afterlife. Ultimately, this would become so utterly abandoned as to involve eating raw meat, pulling up trees and dismembering animals with their bare hands – and there’s me thinking we were pushing the bounds of acceptable party behaviour with a relative acting out ‘Free Willy’ during charades Chez Knowles over the festive season – heavens !


Now – we do actually have one of these actual vases on sale at the moment – see the details here – although the price tag is fairly hefty. Of course, this can be mitigated by applying the current Festive Reduction of 12% by using the code TWELVEDAYS in the shopping cart, which can also be applied on anything else listed in our store, but only up until midnight on 6th January, so get your buying clogs on sharpish if you wish to take advantage….

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