Saint Christopher Hood Ornament, René Lalique (French, 1860-1945) Crystal, Gift of John S. Van Gilder, 1934.1.286.1
This hood ornament (or “car mascot”) produced by the famous French designer and glass maker, René Lalique, was one of his most popular designs. After all, what better symbol to protect drivers and passengers in the early days of motoring than the Patron Saint of Travelers?
Saint Christopher is depicted holding a staff, and carrying the Christ child on his shoulders, alluding to the story of how he carried a child, who revealed himself to be Jesus, across a dangerous river. When they arrived safely, the child turned his staff into a flowering tree and baptized him Christopher, which means “Christ-bearer.” The ornament was so popular that many different versions were produced by Lalique.