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Cazaux, Edouard - Biography

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The Cazaux's

The Cazaux story begins in the 19th century when a group of modest potters, from Cagnotte in the Landes region of South-west France, evolves a cottage industry, producing earthenware jugs and plates for their wives to sell in local village markets. Amongst their number are Jean-Baptiste and Marie Cazaux, whose son Alcide, born in 1857, becomes well known in the region for his ‘Pegas’ or large water jugs their extreme delicacy of design and lightness.
Alcide marries Valerie who gives birth to a son, Edouard. The family moves across the Adour river to Bayonne, where a second son Vincent is born and in 1893 the young family moves to the Negresse quarter of nearby Biarritz, where a third son Armand is born in 1895. Alcide continues to create his famous ‘Pegas’ made with local earth from the villages of Arcangue and Espelette. Working a great deal with local house builders the couple dream of building a homeand workshop of their own.

In 1908 Alcide and Valerie’s dream comes true ; having acquired a piece of land at Chemin de Larreguy, they build their own house and workshop. It is here their three sons Edouard, Vincent and Armand grow up. The pottery becomes more elaborate and sophisticated after young Edouard serves an apprenticeship in Oustau, from where he returns with a few potter’s ‘secrets’, before departing for Paris at the age of 18.

The 1914-18 war is a difficult period for the aging Alcide and Valerie, all three of their sons serve in the army and when Armand returns from serving his country, their faltering business is saved by a large order of resin pots. In 1920 Edouard returns to Paris for good, settling in La Varenne St Hilaire. Armand arrives to help his brother establish production of artistic ceramics. Having accumulated great experience, Armand returns to the Negresse workshop in 1922 and resumes working with his father and older brother Vincent. The three Cazaux brothers maintain contact through weekly correspondence, exchanging drawings, techniques, recipes and discoveries. Production is gradually changing with more emphasis on decorative pieces, both indoor and outdoor. In 1921 the first order is placed for interior decoration, this is the beginning of Cazaux tilework.


In 1928, as demand for Cazaux ceramics increases, an enlarged workshop is built.  From this year Edouard starts his collaboration with Degue glassworks. Moving into the 1930’s, with the construction of many beautiful villas and houses on the Basque coastline, Cazaux's expand their repertoire and evolve a totally original style. Armand and Vincent still receive Parisian contributions from Edouard and their ceramics range expands to encompass furniture.

Together, Edouard, Vincent and Armand create the ‘3 B’ fountain, for the Basque pavillion within the 1937 Paris International Exhibition. In addition, they design a great ceramic murale, the mould for which remains in the Chemin de Larreguy workshops to this day. As a result of this combined effort, the brothers receive the exhibition’s prestigious Gold Medal and Edouard begins building a successful reputation in Paris. While meeting many other artists, Edouard remains in touch with his Basque based brothers, Vincent and Armand. He regularly sends letters detailing ideas and sharing information gleaned from his own artisanal circle.

Soon Vincent is named ‘Best French Craftsman’ while Armand continues with his interior decoration at Chateau de Brindos in Biarritz. In 1942, a son Jean-Marie is born.

In the 1950’s Armand adopts a new series of motifs for his work; incorporating deer and women as the principal themes... these designs echo primitive cave paintings. This stunning work is enhanced by the flames and smoke within the Cazaux wood fired kiln, and during this same period Armand fires large reddish-brown plates, pieces which eloquently symbolize a bold era of Cazaux creativity.

In 1952, Edouard writes to his brother Armand : “be quite sure to watch Jean-Marie grow... he will be better than us. In times to come, when people speak about Cazaux, they will say only that we were three !”


Edouard Cazaux


Born in Cauneille (Landes), Édouard Cazaux comes from a family of potters. In contact with his family, he learns the actions that will awaken his vocation and shape its future. It starts as a ceramist in Tarbes as a worker in a factory specialized in the utility, then go to Paris. Edouard Cazaux quickly finds a job as a turner at Riviere's, rue de la Roquette. Back in Mont-de-Marsan for his military service, he attends night school drawing courses and meet the sculptor Charles Despiau (1874-1946). In 1912, he wins a scholarship to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the Sèvres school ; in the same time, he perfects his training by working in various workshops, especially at Edmond Lachenal's, known for its gilding earthenware.

Under the influence of his friend Despiau, Cazaux participates in 1921, as a sculptor and ceramist, to several Salons (Salon des Tuileries, Salon des Artistes décorateurs and Salon d'Automne. He regularly exhibits the results of his research at the Rouard Gallery and Le Grand Depot. From 1918, Edouard Cazaux moves with his wife, old student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and valuable collaborator, to La Varenne-Saint-Hilaire, near Paris. He sets up a workshop in which he builts two circular kilns, like those of Sèvres for its stoneware and earthenware. He continues his sculptural work with the edification of monuments (Biarritz memorial in 1921). From 1928, he starts his collaboration with Degue glassworks. For them, he designs art glass pieces and lighting, the whole in a very thick glass with geometric, diamond and spiral patterns. Now, we know that the very best production by Degue was designed by Edouard Cazaux. During these fertile years, alongside his contemporaries Decoeur, Lenoble, Buthaud and Mayodon, Cazaux develops a ceramic that combines religious, antique and animal themes, painted, carved or modeled in relief. Bodies with stylized contours or geometric patterns (spirals, diamonds) are adorned with refined tones and gold highlights.







Édouard Cazaux approaches the ceramic as a technician. He experiments the famous brass red, so difficult to obtain, that he fixes in the patterns, but he remains especially known for the use of the Norton stoneware Norton : the shortage of raw materials during the Occupation brings him to use the long ovens Norton's tunnels, manufacturer of grindstones for the industry, whose the temperature can rise until 1 800°C, to cook its ceramic there; he develops then a dough resisting these high temperatures. This experiment gives birth to a series of vases covered with milky enamels getting loose on natural backs which will be presented at Rouard's in 1946. His searches drive him then to marry sculpture and pottery as shown by the ornamental anthropomorphe flowerpot kept in the collections of the Decorative arts Museum, realized in several copies by 1950. After the war, Cazaux withdraws in La Varenne, pursuing relentlessly its work of ceramist and sculptor.
(source : Musée des Arts Décoratifs)






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