Snips and Snails

March 13, 2007 at 11:47 am | Posted in art | 5 Comments

I’m not someone who is terribly moved by fancy jewelry. I remember being taken to see various Crown Jewels when I was a kid, and I was always disappointed — because it turns out that the largest, most famous, and most priceless jewels in the world basically look like big dull rocks.

But last week I nevertheless headed out to the Musee du Luxembourg to see the Lalique exhibit there, because Lalique is different. Rene Lalique didn’t believe in jewelry as a showcase for big, gaudy gemstones. His pieces are inspired by all the beauties of nature — animal and vegetable as well as mineral.

And for Lalique, this doesn’t just mean the pretty things, like roses and swans (although there are plenty of pieces based on those). He had an uncanny skill for creating rare and delicate works of beauty even out of coarse, filthy, or slimy elements of the natural world.

Wasp close
Close up of a wasp brooch.*

Chameleon pendant.*

creature pendant
Weird froggy dude.*

In principle, it seems like jewelry based on bats and bugs should be tacky monstrosities that only appeal to the Hot Topic set. But Lalique (despite working about a hundred years ago) makes all these elements seem fresh and new.

You can see a few more highlights from the exhibit here, or better yet, head over the the Musee du Luxembourg and see them for yourself.
* Photography is forbidden at the exhibit (nevermind what some old ladies with camera phones seemed to think). All images were photographed from the exhibit catalog.



  1. As someone who studied jewellery in art school I will kill myself if I miss this one… 😉

  2. Oh, yes Jennifer… I think you’d really enjoy it.

  3. Sounds like a good idea for an outing… I don’t know a thing about jewelry, but I own a few pieces of eccentric costume jewelry — that’s basically my thing these days! As hard as I’ve tried to wear “precious jewels” in the past, they just don’t seem to suit me. Not that I’ve had that many opportunities, trust me! But irony works better on me… At least that’s my impression, in any case. I’m basically not a diamond girl, probably never will be.

  4. Alice, I don’t wear too much jewelry either. And honestly, as beautiful as Lalique’s pieces were, I don’t know how many of them I could have pulled off (wouldn’t I look a bit silly in a dragon diadem?). Still, beauty is beauty, and they’re fun to look at.

  5. Went to this show with my sister just two weeks ago. FANTASTIC. I already have a certain lust for art nouveau, and this stuff was totally up that particular alley…

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