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René Lalique Dragonfly Bracelet

Created around 1902-1903 by René Lalique, this important bracelet depicts “dragonflies among white hawthorn berries” in plique-à-jour and basse taille enamel, carved opal, aquamarines, and 18K gold. It is composed of six shaped links depicting a sunset scene of two paillonné and basse taille enamel dragonflies in the foreground with overlapping, carved opal wings and one with enamel wings, all settled among fields of opalescent plique-à-jour enamel and a meandering branch of aquamarine and cream, tawny, lilac and rose blossoms and pods, the reverse counter-enameled and lightly chased and engraved, mounted in 18K gold with subtle green tones. A rare jewel, this beautiful pictorial bracelet by Lalique is complex, painterly evocation of a plant and insect biome illuminated by hazy summer light, and clearly influenced by the discipline and sensitivity to nature of Japanese art.

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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: YBA-21554
Artist: René Lalique
Country: France
Circa: 1902-1903
Dimensions: 8.25" length, 1.75" width.
Materials: 17 oval-cut aquamarines; Carved opal; Plique-à-jour, basse taille, and paillonné enamel; 18K gold; With original brown Morocco box labeled "40, Cours-la-Reine, Paris"
Signed: LALIQUE (on first and last links)
Literature: A color rendering for a similar bracelet with six links set with brown diamonds is pictured in René Lalique: Schmuck und Objets d’Art, 1890-1910, by Sigrid Barten, p. 119, image 65, and described on p. 450, cat. no. 1255A, while the jewel itself was exhibited in 1971 and resides in a private collection.

This important jewel belongs to a small group of early bracelets with varied pictorial themes, including irises in the wind (1897, Barten cat. no. 1239, Macklowe Gallery), owls among pines (1900-1901, Barten cat. no. 1258, Gulbenkian colllection) and grasshoppers among umbel berries (1902-1904, Barten cat no. 1277, location unknown). Lalique used the large scale open links to represent scenes in a progression, a series of individual moments, or to offer an overall integrated tableau, as here, spanning the links. In addition to this novel concept, possibly inspired by strips of Japanese textile, Lalique harmonized a variety of experimental materials that contrasted in value, light effects and texture, in the service of his artistic purpose. Some of the fields around the insects and flora are filled with plique, while others offer intriguing areas of negative space, representing a concept Lalique had learned from the Japanese. Also, Lalique's notes written on the design drawing reveal his conception of the scene in planes of varying depth, considering fore, middle ,and backgrounds like a painter, or perhaps the sculptor of a frieze. Once in the collection of Dora Jane Janson, this intricate bracelet is the work of various master specialists. Beautiful, but thorny and unapproachable, white hawthorn is inviting to dragonflies, who feed on the mosquitoes, mayflies and midges drawn to meadows and hedgerows in spring and summer.