Cruising through Alsace aboard the Panache, you’re probably looking forward to the sights and sensations that make this region, which straddles the French-German border, so enchanting. Mountains rearing up on the horizon, sloping vineyards, steeply pitched gabled roofs with timber framing, crisp white wines and golden beers, the blending of French and German cultures.
But, as with any journey, you should also prepare for the unexpected – to be surprised and captivated. When you enter the world of René Lalique at the Musée named after him in Wingen-sur-Moder, France, you’ll known exactly what we mean. The visit to the museum, part of the Panache’s cruise itinerary through Alsace, will perhaps make you see the region in a whole new light.
The Artist and his Work
Before you visit the museum, a little background. René Jules Lalique was born in 1860 in north-eastern France, and took to the visual arts from a very early age. From drawing and sketching Lalique moved into decorative arts and jewellery design, creating pieces for Cartier, Boucheron, and others. By 1890, Lalique had his own business making jewellery and glass pieces, and was a prominent Art Nouveau designer in France.
Today, Lalique is known for his creative work with glass, as exemplified in the perfume bottles, vases, chandeliers, clocks and automobile hood ornaments he produced over a long career. His work is displayed in museums around the world, from London to Lisbon to New York. But it is in Alsace, long an epicentre for fine glass-making that Lalique’s best is on display.
The Musée Lalique
At the museum, enter the sparklingly elegant world of Lalique and his successors (his children and grandchildren were also accomplished artists). Over 650 works are housed here, ranging from Art Nouveau jewellery to Art Deco glass to contemporary crystal. Lalique wove naturalistic influences into his work, so expect to see plants, flowers and flowing vines in his intriguing pieces. From a butterfly brooch to a flower-bedecked tiara, and from a coiling serpent vase to a leaf-patterned perfume bottle, the natural world is a strong presence in Lalique’s delicate creations.
Even if you’ve never heard the name René Lalique before setting foot in the museum, it’s not difficult to detect the artist’s substantial legacy. On the other side of town, just two kilometres from the museum, the Verrerie d’Alsace glassworks, founded by Lalique in 1921, still produces spectacular pieces of glass jewellery and art under a passionate team of designers. Here, the traditions and values of this ground-breaking artist – creativity, beauty, and quality – continue to inspire new generations of art lovers.