René Lalique Gold, Carved Opal, Enamel and Aquamarine Dragonfly Bracelet
The five openwork panels of framed stems encasing two dragonflies with translucent carved opal wings and one of blue and green enameled wings, their bodies of paneled dark blue enamel, the dark blue to black enamel vines tipped by buds of violet, gray, brown, peach and ivory enamel and oval aquamarines, several panels with backgrounds of opalescent plique-à-jour enamel, reverse of realistic engraving, signed Lalique, minor enamel loss, circa 1902, ap. 81.5 dwts. Length 8 1/8 inches. With signed original box.
The jewelry of René Lalique (1860-1945) epitomizes the aesthetic tenants of Art Nouveau style, yet also serves as evidence of incredible craftsmanship, technical complexity and ingenious innovation. In this way, Lalique's jewelry transcends the Art Nouveau movement as arguably the most impressive output of his career, which later in life transitioned entirely to glass.
The striking movement and dimensionality of this bracelet, as depicted in five rectangular panels, read as a panoramic snapshot of a moment in time. Typical of Lalique's fascination with nature, the dragonflies are rendered in flight amongst foliage native to Lalique's hometown of Champagne, France. A perceived depth of field is achieved with layers of prismatic carved opals, tonal blue and brown opaque enamel and faintly blue plique-a-jour enamel read like dew in between otherwise intentional vacancies in the design. The earth-tone color palette and inclusion of semi-precious stones reflect Lalique's preoccupation not with the intrinsic value of the materials but instead a realistic portrayal of nature. Eastern philosophies and aesthetics regarding the search for beauty in the imperfect and perishable natural world were an overriding source of inspiration during this period, but you can see Lalique's close and also entomological consideration in each link.
The large scale is likewise typical of Lalique. Lalique, having originally been commissioned to design stage jewelry and adornments for the likes of Sarah Bernhardt, was accustomed to the scale of pieces that could be seen from theater seats. In addition, large size allowed Lalique enough space to execute the complexity of his designs. This bracelet exemplifies the breadth of Lalique's technical mastery of material in conveying the imagery that not only motivated the man but also an sparked an entire artistic movement; as such, it is a seminal piece by the artist.
Renderings of the bracelet can be found in Sigrid Barton, 'Gliederarmband Libellen zwischen WeiBornfruchten' Kat. Nr. 1255A, image 65, p. 450, described as, "five rectangular links, unevenly closed at the top by curved stems; on a continuous frieze three dragonflies between the umbels of the hawthorn; the left pair of wings of the dragonflies encroach on the following link; the bodies bent sharply to the right; the fruit in the foreground of brown brilliants, that of the middle ground of enamel; the fields of the middle ground made of enamel; the wings of the two dragonflies on the left are cut from opal, those of the right dragonfly from window enamel.
Likewise, the piece was pictured and described by Dora Jane Janson in Lit: 'From Slave to Siren,; Durham 1971, No. 137, Ab. 71., as "Dragonfly bracelet, green gold with opaque and transparent enamels, set with carved opals and aquamarines, ca. 1902 (8 1/2 x 1 5/8) The metal back of the bracelet is lightly worked in the same flower pod motifs as the enamels on the front, a refinement typical of Lalique's three-dimensional sculptor's approach to jewelry, even when- as in this case- the inspiration was probably as two-dimensional as a band of Japanese or Chinese embroidery. Although this elaborate bracelet continues as an earlier predilection (see Catalogue number 130) for working entire panoramas into a space so small one can sense here his groping for a new stylistic idiom to replace the vein of naturalism and, later, surrealism (the term, of course, had not yet been invented) of the great Exposition pieces (Appendix, Figures 160, 161, 165). As other works of the post-Exposition period indicate (see number 170), he experimented with abstract forms as well as with unusual subjects (number 138) without even again achieving the single-minded vision of the works of 1900 (see Introduction). The dating of this piece is based on its similarity to the dog collar, Appendix, Figure 153, from Deutsche Kunst u. Dekoration, XIII, p. 157 (Figure 71).
The piece comes by way of the Estate of Dora Jane Janson, author of the aforementioned 'From Slave to Siren.'
C From the Collection of Dora Jane Janson
Additional Notes & Condition Report
Aquamarines: light to medium to medium deep greenish blue, cleanish, one is very pale, cleanish, lively.
Enamel: minor blue enamel loss on edge. Brown enamel loss on a flower.
Overall good condition.
Evidence on reverse of first panel by clasp of older lead solder repair.
Signed twice on edges of first and last panels.
Width 1 5/8 inches, 41 mm., 4.2 cm.
Length 8 1/8 inches. 20.5 cm.
Any condition statement is given as a courtesy to a client, is an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact and Doyle New York shall have no responsibility for any error or omission. Please contact the specialist department to request further information or additional images that may be available.
No condition report? Click here to request one.