This past summer, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Lisbon. While there, I went to the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and viewed the largest collection of art by the French artist Rene Lalique (1860-1945). Lalique was a goldsmith, glassmaker, and leading Art Nouveau jewelry designer.
His most famous jewelry piece is the Dragonfly woman corsage, made between 1897 and 1898. Gold, enamel, chrysoprase, moonstones, and diamonds depict a woman emerging from a chimera. The National Gallery of Art (NGA) points out that, “the wings are hinged in four places and the tail bends, allowing this enormous brooch to adjust to and move with the body of the person who wore it.”
The NGA continues its analysis:
“The brooch embodies many of the themes that characterize the Art Nouveau style. Nature, metamorphosis, and eroticism are all expressed in this disturbing, fantastical image of a bare-breasted woman emerging from a large dragonfly…
Metamorphosis, or change from one physical form to another, was a major theme for many Art Nouveau artists. Here, woman and insect are fused into an almost menacing creature with golden claws. The idea of the femme fatale, or dangerous woman, was a recurrent theme in many Art Nouveau creations.”
Another favorite piece from the collection was the Cats choker, made of rock crystal, gold and diamonds. I think this piece clearly shows the influence of Japanese art on Lalique’s work.
To see more of the Gublenkian’s collection click here.
– Anna Sacks