Property of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs
At the end of the 19th century, the incandescent light bulb invented in America by Thomas Edison had just arrived in Europe. The rapid success of the new technology required the lamp and lighting manufacturers to rethink design, though many of them initially merely replaced candles by electric light bulbs. René Lalique adapted his own creations to the evolution of society, designing innovative new shapes in tune with the times. Whereas candles had been a visible element in the structure of a lamp, the new source of electric light was filtered and diffused behind glass.
The grooves that make up the bowl of the Hirondelles lamp symbolise wings, and are decorated with swallow motifs. The lower element evokes a stylised bird's nest of interlaced twigs. The result is a delicate dance of swallows around the light of their nest, shedding soft light all around.
By the way: Société Lalique S.A.'s 2018 collection was dedicated to the theme of swallows, and included a new crystal Hirondelles lamp inspired by this model, created almost 100 years earlier.