Born into a middle-class family, decorative artist René Lalique (1860-1945) emerged as one of the great innovators of French design in the late 19th century. In the 1890s, he developed an entirely new idiom inspired by shapes from the world of nature and the stylised forms of Art Nouveau which dominated design at that time. While traditional jewellery was generally judged by the value of the stones that a piece contained, for Lalique it was the design that mattered. He combined unusual materials such as leather, horn and shell with precious metals and gems. In the 1900s, he began exploring glass as a medium, particularly mould-blown and pressed glass techniques. Lalique’s glass sculptures include vases, dishes, perfume vials and drinking vessels, as well as door panels and church windows.