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1908-10 Alfred Daguet Mixed Metal & Cabochon Desk Box (Paris, Fr.)

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    Posted 9 years ago

    (145 items)

    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:


    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

    Public Expositions:
    Le Fer forge', le Cuivre et l'Etain - Musee Galliera, Paris (1905)
    L'Art et le Mobilier religieux moderne - Musee Galliera, Paris (1926)

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    1. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 9 years ago
      wow! what a beautiful piece!!
    2. Stillwater Stillwater, 9 years ago
      I saw another one of these on the Roadshow once
    3. cogito cogito, 9 years ago
      Thanks. Yes, another example was on the Roadshow in 2009. Here's the link:
    4. Stillwater Stillwater, 9 years ago
      Where did you get that? Did you pay retail or was it a garage sale score?
    5. cogito cogito, 9 years ago
      I wish it were a garage sale find, but sadly no. I suspect the only garage sales with any hope of having an undiscovered Daguet box are all in France. And, even then, I doubt you could find one. While the materials are relatively common, nothing that ever retailed in Siegfried Bing's emporium was ever cheap. Matter of fact, most of Bing's large sales were to art institutions and museums at the time.
    6. ozmarty ozmarty, 9 years ago
      Thank you not only for showing this devine piece but for giving me something else to learn about!
    7. cogito cogito, 9 years ago
      Thanks all. Marty, I'm still learning much from you! Same for you, PDAM!
    8. ozmarty ozmarty, 9 years ago
      worth a peek . you may already know this site ??
    9. cogito cogito, 9 years ago
      Oh, yes. Jason is sort of my antiques inspiration. Interesting guy. Met him in person at the Baltimore Antiques Show...he's sort of an antiques James Bond, reflecting an intense knowledge of French antiques and a GQ flair and keen eye for design. His prices reflect a clientele far beyond mere mortals. He had a few Daguet boxes at the Baltimore show that I was able to handle, which is what put the bug in my mind to track down one.
    10. ozmarty ozmarty, 9 years ago
      hi cogito another interesting site
    11. cogito cogito, 9 years ago
      Thanks! I hadn't seen that site before. Beautiful pieces there...though I noted that many of my favorites were pictures from Jason Jacques website. If you get a chance, on his website, you should watch his video for preparing for the NYC antique show. It shows his "pot farm" in upstate NY where he stores all of his treasures. Truly drool worthy.
    12. cogito cogito, 9 years ago
      It just occurred to me that the animal motif on this box may also be a sly signature of sorts by Daguet. "Daguet" is French for a particular species of deer called a mazama.
    13. Hunter Hunter, 9 years ago
      How did I miss this?! so beautiful - what a treasure. :)
    14. cogito cogito, 9 years ago
      Thanks to you both! Cheers!
    15. cogito cogito, 9 years ago
      That's the real deal, Marty. From S. Bing's shop, L'Art Nouveau (Paris). Sadly, however, it looks like it was cleaned of its original patina and from the pictures may have a cracked cabochon (or even a missing one), but I can't tell for sure. I've seen about 4-5 of these on the market within the past ~3 years or so. They are out there, so my advise would be to bargain down or wait for a better (original) condition example.
    16. ozmarty ozmarty, 9 years ago
      Hi Cogito I was just bringing it to your attention , can't buy it unfortunately my playmoney will not stretch that far at the moment .
      If you like you can remove the lnk .
      It does look like one cabochon is missing nd one crached .
    17. ozmarty ozmarty, 9 years ago
      Hi It does say one stone is cracked . I think yours is a much nicer form.
    18. cogito cogito, 9 years ago
      Thanks for the heads-up, Marty. I deleted the link because I think it may be against CW rules to post eBay listings...which is weird because their category engine links up with current listings! In any event, I appreciate the "extra eyes" out there for me! Cheers!
    19. ozmarty ozmarty, 9 years ago
      my pleasure . I could not remember how to contactyou outside of CW . which one of the hounds you are??
    20. ozmarty ozmarty, 9 years ago
      I think I just remembered! Doh!!
    21. Vintagefran Vintagefran, 6 years ago
      Hi cogito. How could I have missed this for 3 years? I must have been asleep. It's beautiful! Great post. Fabulous reading, which taught me a lot. Thank you
    22. cogito cogito, 6 years ago
      My pleasure, VintageFran. Warm regards.

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