Le Bourgeois, Gaston Étienne

Le Bourgeois, Gaston Étienne (1880-1956) – Sculptor and decorator Gaston Étienne le Bourgeois was a true ‘animalier’ and thus made many animal sculptures in stone, bronze ivory and wood. His works were exhibited at the “Salon des Artistes décorateurs” and from 1912 onward at the “Salon d’Automne”. In 1921 his first solo exhibition took place at the “Musée des Arts Décortatifs” in Paris. Two years later he was asked to design some small ivory sculptures for Louis Vuitton. In 1925 he took part in the great exhibition of the “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industrielles Modernes” in Paris. He received many state contracts, but also from private collectors. By the French couturier Jacques Doucet he was commissioned to design a wooden cupboard.

The unique work shown here of a “Renard marchand” has an interesting and quite special history. During the first World War Le Bourgeois founded, together with François Carnot, a toy factory in Puteaux (“Le jouet de France”). This was a special project to help injured war victims to regain their dignity and social worthiness. In 1918 the factory was inaugurated by the French president Raymond Poincaré. The employees made many wooden toys for Parisian warehouses, such as; “Le Printemps”, “Le Bon Marché” and the “Galleries Lafayette”. These toys were all designed by Le Bourgeois, Henri Rapin (1873-1939) and the artist “Jaulmes”. One employee developed a special machine to help the workers to improve and quicken the production process. He was given a nick name by Le Bourgeois; “Le Renard”. For his cleverness the employee was rewarded, at leaving the factory at the beginning of the 1920’s, this unique sculpture of a fox. It has remained in his possession, and later in that of his family, ever since.

Title: “Renard marchand” on wooden base, Material: Carved wood (later guilded/silvered); Period: 1920; Measurements: Height: 55,5 cms. Width: 76,5 cms.

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