Some women are overshadowed by a man, usually a husband. Suzanne Lalique-Haviland (1892-1989) was triply obscured, as the daughter of the glass master Rene Lalique, as the wife of photographer Paul Burty-Haviland, and as a designer for Haviland & Cie producer of fine porcelains, whose owner Theodore Haviland often received the credit for her designs. Even today the Los Angeles County Museum of Art credits him for Lalique-Haviland's work. It isn't accurate and it isn't fair.
Lalique-Haviland, unlike many children who work in the same field as a famous parent, apparently had no desire to imitate her father's style. Her work is as emphatically of the Art Deco style as Rene Lalique's was of Art Nouveau.
Although Lalique-Haviland studied painting and had her first official job working for her father's company, she began exhibiting on her own with the Society of Artist Decorators in 1913 when she was only twenty-one. The group promoted designers of the new style - Art Deco - that, as the name implies, is a modern, technically sophisticated expression of the pleasure principle. We often think first of interior design when we think of the Deco style and two of Lalique-Haviland's plum commissions were designing the interiors for the steamship Le Paris in 1921 and the Cote d'Azur Pullmann Express in 1929. To this end, she designed furniture, fabrics, and porcelains.
Lalique-Haviland still found the energy to paint and in 1931 the prestigious Bernheim-Jeune Gallery in Paris presented a solo show of her paintings. She turned to theatrical set and costume design in 1937, with the Comedie Francaise. Lalique-Haviland was the designer for Francis Poulenc's opera Les Mamelles de Tiresias in 1947. Her versatility became her in every endeavor.
Two years ago when I was searching for information about Lalique-Haviland in the archives of French museums and libraries, it didn't occur to me that there had never been an exhibition devoted solely to her work. It seems unthinkable, but that was the case as I know now, thanks to a communication from someone who works at the Musee Lalique in Alsace. Suzanne Lalique-Haviland, le décor réinventé opened at the Lalique Museum on July 13 and continues until November 11. It's about time.
1. Design for a screen - undated, Musee des Arts decoratifs, Paris.
2. Polka dot design for dinner service, c. 1930, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
3. Animal/Vegetal decorative plate, 1925, Musee des Arts decoratifs, Paris.
4. Snail design for fabric. undated, Musee des Arts decoratifs, Paris.