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"St Christophe" Car Mascot by René Lalique - Circa 1930

An eye catching early 20th Century French clear glass mascot with amethyst tint in roundel form. The surface deeply etched with the patron saint of travel, finished with very fine hand finished detail, signed R.Lalique, France.

Saint Christophe
Catalogue Number: 1142
Signature Identification: "R. Lalique France” Molded Signature
Date Introduced: March 1, 1928
Dimensions: 13 cm High
Felix Marcilhac Catalogue Raisonné Page: 501

Dimensions

13 cm High

Condition report

Excellent Original Condition

Stock number

6493

ABOUT

René Lalique St Christopher Car Mascot

Mascots by Lalique

Mascots – Lalique recognized the need to bring art into everyday life. The only way to accomplish this was to begin mass production of stemware, tableware, inkwells, clocks and vases. At the height of production, Lalique employed 600 people in his glass factories. These skilful artisans created millions of pieces of glassware, many “personalised” with highlight polishing, frosting and glazing for a trademark presentation of individualized attention.

A contemporary invention of his day, the automobile, began to enamour the creative mind of Lalique. Prior to WWI, the artist created bas-relief silver and bronze ‘Targa’ gift plates for winners of the famous Targa Florio races in 1906. Vincenzo Florio commissioned Lalique to design a trophy for the prestigious event. Lalique created a work that anyone would be proud to win; he captured the image of the driver and mechanic speeding down a country road bordered by flowers and birds in flight with the “sky suggested in blue enamel.” By 1920, Lalique envisioned a new goal for the automobile: an empirical decoration on the front hood, elevating glass artistic design above the metallic standard in the mascot. Once a thermometer sat on the radiator simply to measure water temperature; Lalique now proposed elegant, artistic presentation over such mere functionality.

In 1925, André Citroën’s company was a primary sponsor and exhibitor for the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. The motoring magnate rented the Eiffel Tower and had thousands of lights artfully attached to the structure. At night, the double chevron emblem and name “Citroen” was an extraordinary sight seen by millions of people in “The City of Lights.” Knowing he would be displaying his company’s Citroën 5CV, Citroën commissioned Lalique to create glass mascots that could be mounted on the radiator of the car. Citroen wanted the mascots to feature five prancing horses. Thus was born Lalique’s fifth mascot, “Cinq Chevaux.”

The success of the Citroën mascots exposed his unique talent to an entirely new audience. During the next seven years, Lalique created a total of 27 mascots, symbolizing energy, speed and motion; religion; individuality and form of nature; and human sensuality and sexuality—each expressing the grace and details of human and animal forms.

The mascots were created in high-quality glass with a clear, frosted or satin finish. Some were tinted in amethyst and pink, while others were highlighted minimally with subtle colours. Lalique marked his work, as a general practice, with “R. Lalique” followed by the word “France.” The signature clearly marks the base through moulding, etching, script, print sandblasting or a curved design.

Lalique immediately saw the opportunity to draw attention to his mascots by lighting the glass sculpture from underneath its base. A small bulb was connected to provide the illumination. Lalique fashioned filters for placement between the bulb and base of the glass sculpture; this allowed colour changes to red, blue, green, amber or mauve. The idea was novel and stylish.

Due to demand, the artist contracted with the Breves Gallery of London, England to assist with the design and development of the mascot mounting process, as well as with sales in Great Britain and overseas. Breves devised mounts in small and large sizes. In a 1929 advertisement, Breves called Lalique “the greatest living artist in glass design” and offered the mascots either “lighted or unlighted” which “easily fitted on the scuttle or radiator cap.” Breves designers knew that mounting an expensive glass mascot onto the hood was a difficult task. To avoid damaging the glass base, a rubber washer was formed to allow the mascot to sit snugly on the base. The mascot could be tightened yet remain unharmed. Once the automobile was in motion, however, a tightly-fitted mascot was subject to damage or chipping by bumps, road debris, weather conditions, rocks and wind pressure. For the loosely-fitted mascot, wind pressure from high speed, an accident or screeching halt usually sent the mascot flying into space. Also, the heat generated from the bulb inside the mascot and the engine weakened it structurally. Such conditions remain the primary reason that so few original Lalique mascots exist today. Even the finest mountings possible survived little more than a few years.

Soon, Lalique mascots adorned the hoods of Bentley, Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Isotta-Fraschini, Mercedes-Benz and other stylish automobile marques of the day. The mascots, like his other objets des arts, became globally recognized.

Lalique Glass

René Lalique (1860-1945) began his career as a jewellery apprentice at the age of 16, and by 1881 he was a freelance designer for many of the best-known Parisian jewellers. In 1885, he opened his own workshop on Place Gaillon in Paris, the former workshop of Jules Destape. In 1887, Lalique opened a business on Rue du Quatre-Septembre, and registered the "RL" mark the following year. In 1890, he opened a shop in the Opera District of Paris. Within a decade, Lalique was amongst the best-known Parisian jewellers

Oiseau de Feu (Firebird), 1922
 

In 1905, Lalique opened a new shop at Place Vendôme which exhibited not only jewellery, but glass works as well. It was close to the shop of renowned perfumer François Coty; in 1907, Lalique began producing ornate perfume bottles for Coty. The production of glass objects began at his country villa in 1902, and continued there until at least 1912. The first Lalique glassworks opened in 1909 in a rented facility in Combs-la-Ville, which Lalique later purchased in 1913. In December 1912, Lalique hosted an exhibition of Lalique Glass—as his glass would come to be known—at the Place Vendôme shop. During the First World War, the glassworks produced mundane items in support of the war effort. In 1919, work began on a new production facility in Wingen-sur-Moder, which opened in 1921. From 1925-1931, Lalique produced 29 models of hood ornaments; a mermaid statuette first produced in 1920 was also later sold as a hood ornament. During the 1920s and 1930s, Lalique was amongst the world's most renowned glassmakers.

René Lalique died in 1945. His son Marc Lalique took over the business, operating initially as "M.Lalique" and later as "Cristal Lalique". Under Marc's leadership, the company transitioned from producing its famous Lalique Glass to producing lead glass, commonly known as crystal. Marie-Claude Lalique took control of the company following Marc's death in 1977. It was sold to Pochet in 1994 and to a partnership of Art & Fragrance and the holding company Financière Saint-Germain in 2008. Since 2010, Cristal Lalique has been wholly owned by Art & Fragrance.

 

Time line from the Lalique website

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The BADA Standard

  • Since 1918, BADA has been the leading association for the antiques and fine art trade
  • Members are elected for their knowledge, integrity and quality of stock
  • Our clients are protected by BADA’s code of conduct
  • Our dealers’ membership is reviewed and renewed annually
  • Bada.org is a non-profit site: clients deal directly with members and they pay no hidden fees
Click here for more information on the BADA Standard