Posted 7 months ago
Enameled cast iron, brass and copper mixed metal desk box.
Made by Alfred-Louis-Achille Daguet, circa 1908-10.
Rendered in a mix of Russian, Celtic and Egyptian designs, this striking desk box is one of three known examples with this interesting mixed motif. The reverse tapered feet of hand-worked cast iron elevate the box above the surface and allow for Daguet's tour-de-force repoussé work to command the attention it deserves. The decorative top has had numerous interpretations of the motif with the most frequent citing stylized birds, though I tend to think that the creatures in the roundel are jackals (maybe even of the Egyptian god, Anubis).
As is typical of Daguet's work from this period, the top is additionally inlaid with opals and multi-coloured glass cabochons and is strategically enameled in various places. Part of the fun in Daguet boxes is detecting the artist's name or mark, which all Daguet boxes have. In this example the artist's initials are located near the foot of one of the central bird/jackal figures. In addition, above the opposite foot is a numeral #2, indicating that this box is the second example in the series. A simple hasp with locking ring is located centrally on the front of the box; sadly, the original lock is missing, as is typical of most Daguet pieces. The interior is lined with patterned fabric from the period. Dimensions: 9”(W) x 4.5”(H).
A very close example of this Daguet desk box, but with different cabochon colors and less enamel work, was featured on the Antiques Roadshow (Denver, 3/29/2010). See here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200904A53.html
Alfred-Louis-Achille Daguet (Paris, 1875 - 1942). Daguet's early years are shrouded in mystery and little is known other than he was a pupil of Jean-Leon Gerome and Charles Clairin. In 1900, Daguet appeared quite suddenly on the Parisian art scene when his intricate metal works were exhibited by Siegfried Bing in his famed boutique L'Art Nouveau. A sizeable number of Daguet's works from this period are labeled, "Metaux S. Bing" or "Brass S. Bing," as if there were actually a special department for working metal or copper in Bing's gallery, but the real work was being conducted by Daguet himself in a studio directly above L'Art Nouveau. At the Paris Salon of 1903 and 1904, Alfred Daguet exhibited seven objects which were done in repousse' copper. For this exhibition Daguet gave his address as 22 Rue de Provence.
In 1905 Bing closed his gallery L'Art Nouveau, after which Daguet moved his metal studio to the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Jacques where his clients included Sarah Bernhardt and the Barrymores, Maurice and Lionel. In 1910, Dauget exhibited at the Salon of the Societe des Artistes Francais metalwork in "modern style" and ten more in a "different style." The box above likely represents an example of the "different style," given the new mixed materials used (i.e., early period = copper/cabochons; late period = copper/brass/iron/enamel/cabochons). One of his last dated works prior to World War I is a mixed metal mirror frame from 1912, which was owned by Sarah Bernhardt.
During World War I Daguet was assigned as Sergeant Mechanic 2nd Aviation Group. During this time, he produced approximately 2000 sketches of various French and foreign early aircraft; designed numerous aviation manufacture advertisement posters; and was given the moniker of "true apostle of aerial art" based upon the scrupulous accuracy of the technical details and a keen sense of observation in his paintings and illustrations of the period. Attendees to an art exhibition that featured military aeronautics, held in 1919 in Paris, especially praised his watercolors of both French and foreign aircraft. An extensive collection of Daguet's aviation drawings and watercolors (~2000 drawings & 115 watercolors) is in the Musee de l'Air et de l'Espace at Le Bourget, near Paris.
After a 16 year eclipse during the War and successful aviation illustration stint, Daguet returned to decorative metalwork and exhibited largely religiously themed pieces in decorative hard steel and bronze in 1926 at the Musée Galliera.
Salon des Artistes français 1900, 1903, 1905, 1909, 1910
Societe nationale des beaux-arts 1901
Le Fer forge', le Cuivre et l'Etain - Musee Galliera, Paris (1905)
L'Art et le Mobilier religieux moderne - Musee Galliera, Paris (1926)