Tourbillons (Whirlwinds) vase, ca. 1925
René–Jules Lalique (French, 1860–1945)
Glass; H. 8 in. (20.3 cm), Diam. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky Fund, 2004 (2004.120)
Lalique began designing glass at the turn of the twentieth century, at first incorporating small amounts of it in his jewelry and later creating ornamental and utilitarian objects entirely out of the material. His vases and stemware became immensely popular, and before long his glass could be purchased all over the world. The great majority of his works were machine-made from reusable metal molds. Although his Tourbillons vase was produced in quantity, the boldness of its concept and the complexity of the finish suggest that it was made by hand. Lalique sold Tourbillons vases in a variety of hues, but by far his most effective scheme was this: a body of clear, colorless glass with the outer edges of the deep walls highlighted in black enamel. The strong patterning of swirling lines gives it a dynamism that stands alone in his work.