Friday, July 06, 2007

A Peek at Lalique

One of the current "must see" exhibits in Paris, before it ends on the 29th, is the René Lalique exposition at the Musée du Luxembourg, featuring the master jeweler-glassmaker's best bijoux. However, you can have access to a more permanent view of Lalique's oeuvre any day of the year, in the 8e arrondissement.

At 40 Cours Albert 1er this Art Nouveau building with a facade designed by Lalique is one that even many long-time Paris residents don't know much about. Unless you are walking to the nearby Embassies of the Congo or Brazil, you just might miss it.

In 1902 Rene Lalique married his second wife and designed this hotel particulier for his young family. He used it as a residence, a studio, and an exhibit space. Architects Louis-Eugene and Albert Feine designed the structure, but the decoration is pure Lalique. The pine motif begins in the thick glass panes in the wrought-iron door with bas-relief cones and branches. The sculptural detail continues from the door and seems to twine organically up the building's surface.

I was fortunate to be invited inside to see the handsome Lalique chandelier which anchors the central hall. Hmm, maybe they should change those light bulbs.

The mansion today serves as a private apartment building, its interior not open to the public. But just a peek at this Lalique architectural gem is worth a quick detour from the metro stop Alma-Marceau, just a block away.

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