René Lalique (1860-1945)
France, c. 1898-1899
Gold and enamel
21 x 14.3 cm
Inv. no. 1216
This pectoral is one of the paradigms of René Lalique’s jewellery production, not only for the mastery of its execution, as for the theme chosen. Reptiles were a source of inspiration to which Lalique returned throughout his life not only for jewellery, but also for his glass, bronzes, etc.
The pectoral is made up of nine serpents entwined to form a knot from which the bodies of the other eight fall in a cascade, the ninth rising in the centre, at the top of the jewel. The reptiles, in the attack position, have their mouths open from which strings of pearls were hung as was apparently the case with a similar pectoral (the whereabouts of which are unknown), which was highlighted at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900 and reproduced in a publication of the period.
The present piece is thus probably the only one in existence. Calouste Gulbenkian acquired it directly from the artist in 1908.
12.20 IM000960 lisbon gulbenkian October 10