Posted 9 months ago
Alfred Daguet had a wonderful talent for transforming four simple materials - copper, brass, wood and glass cabochons - into organic, flowing examples of the Art Nouveau aesthetic. This ornate desk/stamp box is a prime exemplar of Daguet's unique talent. Raised copper panels surround fields of worked brass, while star-like features with cabochons of turquoise and pearly glass stretch and pull all over the box's surface, often ending in Art Nouveau whiplash. Underneath the opulence resides a simple wooden box with an inclined top, perfect and utilitarian in function. Daguet's work embodies early British Arts & Crafts singular artistic production, French Art Nouveau opulence, and the dreamy internal worlds of 19th century Symbolists.
Boxes with this inclined top shape and organic/abstract style were retailed at La Maison Art Nouveau Bing and were exhibited at the 1903 La Societe des Artistes Francais. Signed on the back, "Alf. Daguet. 02 - Cuivres. S. Bing." Dimensions: 5.7" (W) x 4.5" (W) x 3.5" (H).
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)