• France, c. 1906–8
  • Rock crystal, gold and diamonds 
  • Inv. 1255

‘Cats’ choker

René Lalique

This choker is perhaps one of the most elegant pieces by the artist in the Gulbenkian Collection, for despite its apparent sobriety and absence of colour, it presents a truly prodigious combination of technique and supreme artistry. It is made up of a series of small engraved rock crystal squares, alternately decorated with cats and foliage, linked by gold mesh. The joints enabling the squares to flex are concealed by small diamonds, and the top and the bottom of the choker have a gold border enamelled in white.

This extremely sober piece reveals the play of light and transparency that the artist cultivated throughout his life, particularly through the use of glass in his jewellery. In this case, the same effect is achieved with rock crystal, an extremely difficult material to work. The stylistic evolution of the artist is noteworthy in this piece where the dominant lines are rectilinear as opposed to the more sinuous forms of Art Nouveau

Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian from René Lalique, 11 May 1920.

H. 5.4 cm; W. 33.8 cm 

Barten 1977

Sigrid Barten, René Lalique. Schmuck und Objets d’art, 1890-1910. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1977, p. 238, no. 313.

Ferreira 1997

Maria Teresa Gomes Ferreira, Lalique. Jóias. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 1997, pp. 256–9, cat. 73. 

New York 1999

Katharine Baetjer and James David Draper (eds.), 'Only the Best'. Masterpieces of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, exhibition catalogue. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999, pp. 156–7, cat. 77.

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