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Louis Auguste DAGE (1885-1963)
Louis Dage starts his career in the Fives-Lille earthenware factory. After a short stay in Saint-Aubin-en-Bray, he continues his training in Beauvais where Greber and Auguste Delaherche factories are located.
Eugène Val will come later as partner.
In 1924, Louis Dage wins the famous « Meilleur ouvrier de France » award.
In the early 1930s, he works for the decoration of the liner Le Normandie.
In 1935, he will manage the Saint-Sever (Landes) earthen ware factory.
The bronze mounts sometimes appearing in Louis Dage's pieces were the work of André Villen, whose dealer was Eugène Val.
To know more about Louis Dage - by Claude Mandraut
The professional life of Louis Auguste Dage is marked by a certain itinerancy, some episodes of which seem to be linked to his private life. The family tradition does not explain his vocation since his father was a baker's boy at the time of his birth, on April 9, 1885. His mother, Elisabeth Van Costenoble, coming from Belgium, was a seamstress. On the other hand, born in Lille, one can imagine that the proximity of the Fives-Lille factory, undoubtedly a provider of jobs, directed Louis towards ceramics, just like his brother Edmond Georges Dage, born on May 19, 1886. This Fives-Lille factory, founded by Gustave de Bruyn, employed up to 400 workers before the First World War. On its papers, the first indications of which are given in 1905 since it is of this class, it is specified that Louis Dage is a "painter on earthenware". An additional statement dated 1925 presents him as "pottery manufacturer, ceramist". His brother Edmond, on the same administrative form but dated 1906, is also described as a “painter on earthenware”. At 18, Louis Dage, brown hair and brown eyes, is 1.66 m tall and already has his forehead "uncovered", if we are to believe the same document. Louis Dage marries in Lille, on June 8, 1905, Léonie Louise Pinte, seamstress, born on November 28, 1881 and residing in Loos. In 1906, when he declared in Loos where the couple resided the birth of his daughter Rolande Germaine, his profession was still “decorator on earthenware”. On November 9, 1906, he was temporarily discharged for “suspicious bronchitis” and classified in the auxiliary service for “weakness”. He was then called back to work on November 10, 1907. Declared insubordinate on January 26, 1908, Louis benefited from the amnesty law of August 5, 1914. He was then seconded for 60 days to Maison Morda, in Saint- Aubin en Bray, from May 30, 1915 to October 16, 1915. Specializing in sandstone, did Maison Morda supply pieces used by the armies and did it therefore benefit from seconded military personnel? It seems likely. Finally, on May 30, 1915, he joined the reserve of the territorial army. Between 1905 and 1916, no address is indicated on Louis' official documents. His quality of rebelliousness and the years of war easily explain this shortcoming. On the other hand, in August 1916, he was domiciled in Nimy-les-Mons, in Belgium, where there was a ceramics factory. He was still there on April 12, 1919. On April 25, 1919, we find Louis Dage in Boulogne-Billancourt (Seine), at 34 rue de Saint-Cloud, and on the birth certificate of his son Louis Roland, dated October 23, 1919, he is domiciled at 26 quai de Billancourt. Its descriptive documents, from April 14, 1920, place it at Antony, 82 route d'Orléans and from February 1, 1923 at 46 la Croix de Berny, in the same city, subject to correct interpretation. of the handwritten note.
Before arriving in the Paris region, Louis worked in the ceramics sector, probably in Fives-Lille and Nimy in Belgium and certainly for Maison Morda. But it was in Antony that he made his name. As Alexis Douchin points out, Louis Dage was not the first ceramist to work in the studio at 46 avenue d’Orléans (address later became 82 route d’Orléans). A first general partnership “J.-J. Lachenal et cie” was created there in 1911. In 1920, Louis Fontinelle and Louis Dage in turn founded a pottery there, says Alexis Douchin. However, on the commercial register, it is specified that the company was created on May 20, 1921. It was declared there on November 16, 1923 under the sole name of Louis Dage, the commercial name being Dage and its object ceramics of art. In 1921, the company operated with ovens with a gross capacity of 2m³. It should be noted that the partner of Louis Dage is indeed Louis Fontinelle, who signs L.Fontinelle, and not Jean de la Fontinelle, contrary to what Patrick Maureille writes, erroneous information and sometimes repeated. Louis Fontinelle was born in 1886 in Louvroil in the North. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Lille where he first worked as a handyman. On his official documents, his profession is sculptor. He also practiced in Belgium before arriving in Antony. The fact that they are from the same region undoubtedly brought these two men closer together. Their collaboration was short-lived since Louis Fontinelle no longer appeared on the contribution registers from 1922. During my research, I only found two vases co-signed Dage and Fontinelle. The latter would later become known for his cracked animals that he produced in the workshop he set up in Marines, in the Val d'Oise, in 1927.
For Louis Dage, the arrival at Antony marks a turning point in his career. He signs his pieces. However, it does not stay in place. If he appears on the electoral lists as a "stoneware manufacturer" residing at 46 avenue d'Orléans from 1923 to 1946, we should not rely too much on these indications. The population census of 1926 places him at this address as a “ceramic manufacturer”, that of 1931 residing at 6 bis rue des Gouttières with the profession of “ceramist, patron”. In addition, the matrices of the contributions show, in 1930, Raymond Julien Cottens as occupant of the workshop at 46 avenue d'Orléans, a workshop which no longer had any ceramic activity in 1931. Electroplater, Julien Cottens is undoubtedly came to ceramics by marrying in 1928 Rolande, Germaine Dage, daughter of Louis, who worked with her father as a "painter" in 1926 (census lists), as a "ceramic painter" in 1928 (marriage certificate), as a "modeler in 1936 and finally as a “ceramist” in 1946 (census lists). The year 1930 seems to be a pivotal period for Louis Dage since, according to the tax documents consulted by Alexis Douchin, he opened a ceramics factory equipped with five kilns of 1m³ each at 6 bis rue des Gouttières, in Antony. Property of the Société E. Val et cie, the company was operated from 1930 to 1935 by the "Faïencerie d'Antony/Dage", as indicated on the contribution matrices. In fact, the situation is a bit more complicated. The commercial register of Paris dates back to November 7, 1929 the creation of the company Faïencerie d'Art d'Antony (porcelain and earthenware factory) at 6 bis rue des Gouttières. Louis is the general manager. His partners are Eugène Val, Robert Val, Yves Martel and Charles Perrin. In 1933, he became the manager following the resignation of Eugène Val. The latter, president of the Trade Union Chamber of wholesale and semi-wholesale pottery traders, directs the limited partnership E. Val & Cie (glassware, ceramics and painting on glass) created on December 18, 1892, at 218 Faubourg Saint-Martin in Paris. At the same time, the company Effler Frères, Val & cie with the same object and the same address, created by acts of January 3 and 5, 1891, was dissolved on December 31, 1892. It did not last long. In the object of the company E. Val & Cie, it is specified that "direct or indirect participations [...] in all commercial or industrial operations" are possible by means of "contribution in subscription, in purchases of titles to social rights, mergers, associations, participations or otherwise”. Secondary establishments are named in Antony and Blanc Mesnil. It is undoubtedly in this context that the rapprochement between Eugène Val and Louis Dage took place. An advertisement indicates that E. Val et cie exclusively sells wholesale and also has a frame workshop. There are also a number of objects (vases, cups, candy boxes) with metal mounts stamped Val. For his part, Louis Dage, when he was already installed at 6 bis rue des Gouttières in Antony, tried to sell "a ceramist's workshop with two mittens" in 1930. Finally, the dissolution of the Société Faïencerie d'Art d'Art Antony was announced in 1935, no doubt due to the defection of Louis Dage. He employed there in addition to his daughter Rolande, his brother Edmond, a military pensioner following war wounds which led to the shortening of his right leg. Two sons of Edmond, Henri and Edmond Alfred Dage, also work in the workshop as ceramists. If the Société Faïencerie d'Art d'Antony is dissolved, we see on the same page 267 of La Céramique et la Verrerie of July 1935 that the Establishments E. Val & Cie are not covered since they insert an advertisement. However, their “exclusively wholesale” business has changed from “All items, from the most ordinary to the most artistic fantasies. Decoration workshop. Atelier de Monture” in 1927 to “Ateliers de Décor, Ateliers de Montures en Bronze, Fabrique de Sous-des de Plats et de Bois d'Huiliers” in 1935. The artist component seems less strong. We can think that the judgment of the Société Faïencerie d'Art has something to do with it.
While he seems well settled in Antony and left to make a career there, especially since Paris is close, Louis Dage separates from his wife, Léonie, on August 14, 1934, and marries Fernande Marianne Bilau on October 16, 1934, no profession on the marriage certificate, hatter on the marriage contract in separation of property and ceramist on the census lists. She was born in Mons-en-Barœul, in the North, and her father, Eugène Bilau is a potter. This one, born in Lille, came to work in Antony. We find in this union the two components that marked the life of Louis Dage: his origins in northern France and his love of ceramics. Note that on the marriage contract Louis Dage is "non-established ceramist". So it would seem that he has taken a step back from his business. The future spouses both live at 6 bis rue des Gouttières in Antony. The young woman is 29 years old and Louis 49. The family situation is undoubtedly problematic because Louis Dage is sentenced to 18 days of suspended imprisonment for "family abandonment" by judgment of October 4, 1934, as indicated in his descriptive statement and services. It was in this context that he arrived in Saint-Sever, in the Landes department. His daughter and brother remain in Antony where the latter works at the Sanitary Ceramics of Antony. His son, Louis, Roland, probably followed him because he married in Saint-Sever on May 8, 1940. The situation evolved quite quickly since Louis Dage created on April 1, 1935, through his wife, the SARL Faïen-cerie de the Adour. It is a company with a capital of 40,000 francs. His wife Fernande Bilau is co-manager with Paul Joseph Edmond Jules Bastard as second co-manager. It was difficult to place Paul Bastard for two reasons. On the commercial register of Mont-de-Marsan, there is a 10-year error on his birth. He was indeed born in Le Mans (Sarthe), but on September 29, 1891 and not September 24, 1881. In addition, Paul Bastard changed his name, being previously called Batard. On its signage and services, it is first of all an industrialist, then a manufacturer of bronze mounted articles in 1925 and finally he becomes a manufacturer of earthenware in 1937. How to explain this meeting? His cousin told me that he had a faience trading shop in Paris. Perhaps this is how he met Louis Dage. Why Saint-Sever? Antony's great distance is a good reason. Furthermore, Louis, who is familiar with the magazine La Céramique et la Verrerie since he inserted an advertisement there for the sale of the Antony installation, no doubt read the one concerning the sale of the Faïencerie de Saint-Sever in 1927 and remembered it.
While he seems well settled in Antony and left to make a career there, especially since Paris is close, Louis Dage separates from his wife, Léonie, on August 14, 1934, and marries Fernande Marianne Bilau on October 16, 1934, no profession on the marriage certificate, hatter on the marriage contract in separation of property and ceramist on the census lists. She was born in Mons-en-Barœul, in the North, and her father, Eugène Bilau is a potter. This one, born in Lille, came to work in Antony. We find in this union the two components that marked the life of Louis Dage: his origins in northern France and his love of ceramics. Note that on the marriage contract Louis Dage is "non-established ceramist". So it would seem that he has taken a step back from his business. The future spouses both live at 6 bis rue des Gouttières in Antony. The young woman is 29 years old and Louis 49. The family situation is undoubtedly problematic because Louis Dage is sentenced to 18 days of suspended imprisonment for "family abandonment" by judgment of October 4, 1934, as indicated in his descriptive statement and services. It was in this context that he arrived in Saint-Sever, in the Landes department. His daughter and brother remain in Antony where the latter works at the Sanitary Ceramics of Antony. His son, Louis, Roland, probably followed him because he married in Saint-Sever on May 8, 1940. The situation evolved quite quickly since Louis Dage created on April 1, 1935, through his wife, the SARL Faïencerie de the Adour. It is a company with a capital of 40,000 francs. His wife Fernande Bilau is co-manager with Paul Joseph Edmond Jules Bastard as second co-manager. It was difficult to place Paul Bastard for two reasons. On the commercial register of Mont-de-Marsan, there is a 10-year error on his birth. He was indeed born in Le Mans (Sarthe), but on September 29, 1891 and not September 24, 1881. In addition, Paul Bastard changed his name, being previously called Batard. On its signage and services, it is first of all an industrialist, then a manufacturer of bronze mounted articles in 1925 and finally he becomes a manufacturer of earthenware in 1937. How to explain this meeting? His cousin told me that he had a faience trading shop in Paris. Perhaps this is how he met Louis Dage. Why Saint-Sever? Antony's great distance is a good reason. Furthermore, Louis, who is familiar with the magazine La Céramique et la Verrerie since he inserted an advertisement there for the sale of the Antony installation, no doubt read the one concerning the sale of the Faïencerie de Saint-Sever in 1927 and remembered it.
Louis Dage and Paul Bastard are therefore not starting from scratch. They relaunched a factory created in 1920 in Saint-Sever in the Landes and which had mixed fortunes. Its founder, Eugène Léon-Dufour, who married in Paris on January 7, 1901 Mathilde Gautier, granddaughter of Théophile Gautier, is from the country. Son of Doctor Pierre Dufour, he was born in Saint-Sever on March 5, 1867. The company is located in the Péré district and takes the name of “Faïencerie de l’Adour, Tradition de Samadet”. The village of Samadet, which is about twenty kilometers from Sain-Sever, saw the birth in 1732 of a Royal Earthenware Factory founded by Abbot Maurice du Bouzet de Roquépine. It is run by Le Patissier who was poached from the Faïencerie Hustin in Bordeaux. Its story ends in 1832. But it left its mark on people's minds enough for Eugène Léon-Dufour to want to pay homage to it by creating a pottery in Saint-Sever that makes reference to it. Without going into details, Eugène Léon-Dufour's pottery changed hands several times: from 1924 to 1927, it was headed by Jean-François Pauly and from 1929 to 1935, it was run by Paul René Hauviller, Prosper Bernanose being the owner. This factory is not particularly well regarded by the local population, if we are to believe the letter from Jean-François Pauly and that of the workers of the factory inserted in La Nouvelle Chalosse, in response to an article published in the Bulletin parish church of Ste-Eulalie (Saint-Sever) on November 1, 1924. Some people considered pottery as a place of perdition. It has not been possible to find this copy of the Parish Bulletin which would no doubt have been instructive. In another register, the supplement of La Nouvelle Chalosse of May 8, 1927, in which are described the factory and the material of Faïenceries de l'Adour, Tradition Samadet with a view to the adjudication scheduled for May 31, 1927 at the court of Mont -de-Marsan following a bankruptcy, gives an idea of the facilities located on the banks of the Adour that Louis Dage will have a few years later. The main building is nearly 850 m², supplemented by several constructions totaling an area approaching 1000 m². Various sheds and workers' housing come in addition. In terms of equipment, motors, belts, lathes, grinding wheels, cast iron plate for molds are used to work the parts which then go into three ovens of 5 m³ each and a fourth of 2.5 m³. This is followed by an impressive list of products in progress, finished and ready to be delivered or collected from the sample cabinet of Mademoiselle Fulhart, 25 rue de Trévise in Paris. An advertisement is still published in the journal La Céramique et Verrerie, as indicated above. It was therefore this factory that Louis Dage took over in 1935 and which he operated through his wife, co-manager of SARL Faïencerie de l'Adour. The company is admitted to compulsory liquidation on May 19, 1939 but Louis will continue to work there in another legal framework, undefined, Prosper Bernanose remaining owner of the land and the walls. On an invoice dated 1940, we note that it is no longer a capital company and that Paul Bastard has disappeared. On another invoice from 1957, we can read "New pottery from the Adour, modern and old: vases, lamp bases, cups, candy boxes, subjects, smokers, funeral...". Louis Dage is presented there as first worker of France in 1925 and grand prize of the Artisanal Exhibition of 1924. This point remains to be clarified because if it is often indicated that Louis was best worker of France in 1924, he remains untraceable in the archives. of the National Society of the Best Workers of France. It is difficult to assess the number of employees working for his company in Saint-Sever. The census documents consulted show that there are very few people declaring themselves as employees of the pottery. On the other hand, one of the workers, who was in charge of the packaging and who then designed Samadet or Moustiers type flowers from 1944 to 1954, seems to remember that there were between 30 and 40 employees at this time. She specifies that Louis Dage touched on everything, casting or spraying enamel, and was close to the staff. He was the first boss of Saint-Sever to pay for the non-working day of May 1.
All these details on the personal career of Louis Dage and on the factory he took over in Saint-Sever might seem superfluous. However, they allow us to understand how his production has evolved independently of the artistic path that a creator is led to follow in a long career. In the case of Louis Dage, the ceramist that he is did not change his approach solely because of the artistic context of the time, his perception of his art or his desire to try other techniques. Circumstances have obviously led him to adapt, in particular to be aesthetically and financially accessible to local customers. Be that as it may, Louis Dage specializes, in Antony as in Saint-Sever, in decorative objects, vases, tobacco sets, ashtrays, cups, bowls. And he even makes a few cups. If it seems that ceramics or rather, at the very beginning, decoration on earthenware was from the outset the path he chose, there is no identifiable trace of this initial production. Working for bosses, he learned the trade, complied with their demands, fitting into the mold of the company. It is in Antony that Louis Dage emerges and appears as an artist in his own right, signing his creations and having a production tool, in partnership for a very short time with Louis Fontinelle. He was then 36 years old, a certain maturity and years of practice behind him. How did their collaboration work, what were the responsibilities and prerogatives of each? It is difficult to extrapolate. The pieces co-signed by the two partners are rare and the two vases found bearing their two signatures are of different workmanship. The style, the treatment of the ceramics, the decor have nothing in common. One of these objects is treated with drips, in a "flamed" spirit quite common at the time, the other is more precious and very masterful in its form and in its execution with a decoration of pine cones on the belly and foliage in relief which underline the shapes of the piece. Patterns in patinated matte gold stand out against a dark background. One could even believe that this second vase is in bronze.
During the "Parisian" period of Louis Dage, and under his sole signature, there are a large number of characteristic pieces that can be recognized by the treatment of the background decoration. The body of the piece is covered with enamels that give an impression of marbling with variations. Some “marbles” combine pinkish beige and white, others two shades of gray or even gray and pink or light brown speckled with blue. The weft can be very tight and is then reminiscent of totally smooth granite or with a slight relief. The finish ranges from a very pronounced matte to a very bright gloss and everything in between. On this background, Louis Dage draws floral motifs. He particularly likes the marriage of clusters of flowers or blue fruits (these are simple small round and blue grains) and vine or maple leaves, sometimes green, sometimes yellow. The arrangement of the leaves and fruits varies from one piece to another to match the shapes. If these motifs are recurrent, Louis Dage drew other types of flowers using a wider chromatic palette, their common point being the slightly Cubist spirit of Art Deco adopted by the artist to draw them. It happens more rarely to marry these marbled backgrounds with drips. Uncommon, black vases underlined with bands and pink nets between which is inserted an elegant frieze of stylized gold and silver flowers. In a non-figurative genre, he has also produced pieces with large flat areas of color with irregular contours (bright yellow, red or marbling) on a black background. He exploited another technique: very thick and vitrified enamels which keep a significant relief, mixed or not with drips. Strapping and metal handles, often in bronze, dress these ceramics and on some we see very clearly the signature "Val", a company in which he was involved, as we have seen. Finally, he practiced the effects of scales of monitor lizard or snake skin with marked reliefs but which have nothing to do with René Buthaud's "snake skin" technique for the pieces he signed J Doris. We lack the benchmarks to determine if there was a transitional artistic period between the production of Antony and that identified as Saint-Sever. In what register did he engage on his arrival in the Landes, did he continue on his momentum from Antony and did he stand out little by little? Only those close to him might be able to tell. What is certain is that he takes over a company which displays in its title "Tradition de Samadet" and this tradition he adopts in turn, even if he interprets it in his own way. Because these pieces inspired by the manufacture of Samadet, the local artistic reference, are not copies. Admittedly, we find there the characteristic flowers of Samadet, but on vases which are of modern invoice most of the time. They embellish a certain category of Louis Dage ceramics which have one thing in common: they end, at the base and at the neck, with brown bands often treated as rolls to give more breadth to the piece and accentuate the contrast with the bottom. The latter is treated in simple white or beige enamels most of the time, other times in crisp enamels that are smooth or rougher to the touch, encrusted with gravel, or scratched. The variants are many. Color stripes are sometimes added. It seems that in Saint-Sever, Louis Dage developed a marked taste for metallic effects: gold or silver. Some pieces are particularly successful, such as the sculpture of an elephant on the terrace that I was able to admire, a few representations of dogs or vases with harmonious shapes with different renderings: sets of stains with irregular outlines, encroaching on each other and ranging from bronze to dark bronze, thick covered in gold with large cracks revealing a black background. Identifying his creations for those who do not know them is quite easy because the artist has taken care to sign his works. There is no absolute rule. He very often signs “L. Dage”, more rarely “Dage” alone and sometimes he adds a circumflex accent on the a. These signatures are affixed either on the body of the black vases, or underneath. They are then handwritten in black or engraved in capitals or lowercase, without addition, underlined with a straight line or in the manner of a signature. They are sometimes accompanied by form numbers or "Paris" for the Antony period. In this respect, a vase signed jointly by L. DAGE and CAB opens the way to reflection on the mode of marketing of Louis Dage when he works in Saint-Sever. It may be difficult for him, due to the geographical remoteness of the Landes, to maintain regular relations with his former Parisian and national clients. It is easy to imagine that professional ties.
All his life, Louis Dage devoted himself to ceramics. More than a job, it was obviously a passion for him. Whatever the personal or financial hazards that affected him, he remained faithful to his vocation, from his beginnings in Lille until the end of his life in Saint-Sever. Shortly before his death on September 14, 1961, he was still working with clay and enamels. This persistence, which is not so common, deserves to be underlined. A divorce, two marriages, hundreds of kilometers traveled between different workshops, two world wars failed to change its trajectory. However, he developed techniques and styles, at Antony as well as at Saint-Sever, which are his own and are recognizable. If the plant motifs on a marbled background, pleasant to look at, are quite appreciated, they are also repetitive. Less easy to approach, his material effects better reflect the artist's efforts to stand out, to display a style and a work of his own. Louis Dage contributed to the search for new paths in ceramics at the beginning of the 20th century, with success. It is quite legitimate to recognize the role he played. Today, there is no trace left of the factory in which he worked for many years. It was razed before a house was built on the land. On the occasion of this demolition, mussels of this artist would have been thrown into the Adour bordering the plot.