Description René Lalique’s "Orchid Comb" is one of the Walters Art Museum’s greatest treasures and an undoubted Art Nouveau masterpiece. Lalique revolutionized jewelry design in the final decade of the 19th century by combining materials in unexpected ways, developing new techniques and reviving old ones, and blending historical and cultural references to create new vocabularies and forms. The "Orchid Comb" showcases these innovations and represents the height of Lalique’s jewelry production. Lalique’s studio rendered the highly naturalistic orchid at the centre of the comb out of a single piece of ivory; diamonds play a supporting role, picking out the veins along three slim leaves in glowing plique-à-jour enamel. The stem is attached by a gold hinge to a three-pronged horn comb. This is the most flamboyant of all the pieces purchased by museum founder Henry Walters at the Saint Louis World's Fair in 1904. Never intended to be worn, it entered the collection as a masterpiece of technical accomplishment in the field of the decorative arts.
- Jewelry - Ancient to Modern. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1979-1980.
- Vive la France! French Treasures from the Middle Ages to Monet. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1999-2000.
- From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2014-2016.
- Excursions through the Collection: Portraiture, Adornment, and the Natural World. 2019-2021.
Provenance World's Fair, St. Louis, Missouri, 1904 [no. 1]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1904, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1904
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