René Lalique (1860-1945)
Without doubt one of the most spectacular pieces of jewellery ever created by René Lalique, the great modern jewellery artist, this ‘dragonfly-woman’ broach was presented with enormous success at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900, where the artist’s art nouveau jewellery work met with great acclaim. The hybrid figure, at once beautiful and horrible, consists of an enormous gold and enamel dragonfly, bearing articulated open wings, with extremely fine opaline enamel decoration enriched by diamonds, enamel work and moonstones. From the gaping mouth of the insect, with its griffin’s claws, a chrysoprase female bust emerges whose head is covered by a helmet decorated with two beetles in enamelled gold. The slender body of the insect, also in enamelled gold, features chalcedony en cabochon. Combining the female figure with the insect, which attracts and repels at the same time and, in becoming a hybrid creature with ferocious griffin’s claws, this world of contrast and opposites that is so typical of the taste of the era finds its highest example in this piece of jewellery.