RÉNÉ Lalique is most widely known today for his inter-War glass vases, a field that he moved into after his Art Nouveau jewellery. But he also used glass to create a smaller number of furnishings and interior decors for specific clients.
A stunning example of Lalique's use of glass for architectural
purposes resurfaced last month at Sotheby's Paris
rooms, where it topped the auctioneers' November 22 double session
of 20th century decorative arts and design.
Porte Moineaux Chambranle Cranté (Sparrow door in a
notched frame), an 8ft 10in (2.7m) high by 5ft 10in (1.8m) wide,
moulded glass and nickel steel double door eclipsed a not
inconsiderable €400,000-600,000 estimate to take €1.75m
Lalique created the doors to show at the 1929 Salon des
Artistes Decorateurs. They comprised two doors, each made of
four glass panels edged with thin panels of moulded glass featuring
sparrows in high relief. Undulating glass sections run round the
Subsequently shown at Breves Galleries in London, they then
appeared in Vogue where they attracted wider interest
from, among others, Florence Boot, Lady Trent, wife of Sir Jesse
Boot of Boots the Chemist fame, who bought them.
Lady Trent installed the doors in the parlour of her home on
She proved to be an important Lalique client, for in 1931, after
Sir Jessie Boot's death, she commissioned the rebuilding of the
Church of St Matthew on Jersey in her husband's memory and asked
Lalique to provide the interior fittings and windows. St Matthew's
is now known as The Glass Church.
Prior to their appearance at Sotheby's the doors have changed
hands only once, going from Lady Trent's Jersey home to a UK
collection some time before 1988.
At Sotheby's last month there were four would-be purchasers in
the running for the Porte Moineaux up to around €800,000,
after which the battle was down to two phone bidders. The
successful purchaser was a private collector.
The previous record was $500,000 (£335,570) paid on December 16,
2010 at Sotheby's New York for a 17in (43cm) high, 1905 lost-wax
cast figure of a woman with a garland of flowers.