Exquisite French early 20th century Art Deco clear glass car mascot in roundel form engraved with the figure of a kneeling archer with intricate hand carved detail, raised on a circular plinth and signed R Lalique France
Catalogue Number: 1126
Signature Identification: "R. Lalique France” Wheelcut Signature
Date Introduced: August 3, 1926
Dimensions: 13 cm High
Felix Marcilhac Catalogue Raisonné Page: 498
Height: 13 cm
Condition: Excellent Condition
Materials: Clear & Frosted Glass
Book Ref R.Lalique – Catalogue Raisonné by Felix Marcilhac
Page no. 498
Mascots by Lalique
Mascots – Lalique recognized the need to bring art into everyday life. The only way to accomplish this was to begin mass production of stemware, tableware, inkwells, clocks and vases. At the height of production, Lalique employed 600 people in his glass factories. These skilful artisans created millions of pieces of glassware, many “personalised” with highlight polishing, frosting and glazing for a trademark presentation of individualized attention.
A contemporary invention of his day, the automobile, began to enamour the creative mind of Lalique. Prior to WWI, the artist created bas-relief silver and bronze ‘Targa’ gift plates for winners of the famous Targa Florio races in 1906. Vincenzo Florio commissioned Lalique to design a trophy for the prestigious event. Lalique created a work that anyone would be proud to win; he captured the image of the driver and mechanic speeding down a country road bordered by flowers and birds in flight with the “sky suggested in blue enamel.” By 1920, Lalique envisioned a new goal for the automobile: an empirical decoration on the front hood, elevating glass artistic design above the metallic standard in the mascot. Once a thermometer sat on the radiator simply to measure water temperature; Lalique now proposed elegant, artistic presentation over such mere functionality.
In 1925, André Citroën’s company was a primary sponsor and exhibitor for the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. The motoring magnate rented the Eiffel Tower and had thousands of lights artfully attached to the structure. At night, the double chevron emblem and name “Citroen” was an extraordinary sight seen by millions of people in “The City of Lights.” Knowing he would be displaying his company’s Citroën 5CV, Citroën commissioned Lalique to create glass mascots that could be mounted on the radiator of the car. Citroen wanted the mascots to feature five prancing horses. Thus was born Lalique’s fifth mascot, “Cinq Chevaux.”
The success of the Citroën mascots exposed his unique talent to an entirely new audience. During the next seven years, Lalique created a total of 27 mascots, symbolizing energy, speed and motion; religion; individuality and form of nature; and human sensuality and sexuality—each expressing the grace and details of human and animal forms.
The mascots were created in high-quality glass with a clear, frosted or satin finish. Some were tinted in amethyst and pink, while others were highlighted minimally with subtle colours. Lalique marked his work, as a general practice, with “R. Lalique” followed by the word “France.” The signature clearly marks the base through moulding, etching, script, print sandblasting or a curved design.
Lalique immediately saw the opportunity to draw attention to his mascots by lighting the glass sculpture from underneath its base. A small bulb was connected to provide the illumination. Lalique fashioned filters for placement between the bulb and base of the glass sculpture; this allowed colour changes to red, blue, green, amber or mauve. The idea was novel and stylish.
Due to demand, the artist contracted with the Breves Gallery of London, England to assist with the design and development of the mascot mounting process, as well as with sales in Great Britain and overseas. Breves devised mounts in small and large sizes. In a 1929 advertisement, Breves called Lalique “the greatest living artist in glass design” and offered the mascots either “lighted or unlighted” which “easily fitted on the scuttle or radiator cap.” Breves designers knew that mounting an expensive glass mascot onto the hood was a difficult task. To avoid damaging the glass base, a rubber washer was formed to allow the mascot to sit snugly on the base. The mascot could be tightened yet remain unharmed. Once the automobile was in motion, however, a tightly-fitted mascot was subject to damage or chipping by bumps, road debris, weather conditions, rocks and wind pressure. For the loosely-fitted mascot, wind pressure from high speed, an accident or screeching halt usually sent the mascot flying into space. Also, the heat generated from the bulb inside the mascot and the engine weakened it structurally. Such conditions remain the primary reason that so few original Lalique mascots exist today. Even the finest mountings possible survived little more than a few years.
Soon, Lalique mascots adorned the hoods of Bentley, Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Isotta-Fraschini, Mercedes-Benz and other stylish automobile marques of the day. The mascots, like his other objets des arts, became globally recognized.