Georges Le Saché was a highly respected jewellery designer and manufacturer who created pieces for some of the most prominent jewellery houses of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Born into a creative family in Paris in 1849, Georges Le Saché showed signs of having inherited an artistic nature from an early age. His grandfather Jean-Jacques Le Saché was an engraver for the Paris Mint and was commissioned by the Mayor of Ghent in 1810 to make a medal for which he was praised not only for “the imaginative handling of the subject” but also the “meticulous craftsmanship evident in the piece”. His father Emile was a talented draughtsman with a particular skill for line engraving whilst his mother ran a jewellery shop in Paris’s Palais Royal.
Georges’ first love was painting and he spent much time during his formative years in the company of artists including one of the best academic painters of the period, William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Hours spent in this and other artists’ studios inspired Le Saché and nurtured his obvious creative talents. He planned to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris however his parents, fearing this career path was too unstable and wanting something more secure for him, sent him to Germany in 1866 aged 17. Here he went to work for the renowned jewellery firm Friedman which was well known in France at the time and where Carl Fabergé would go to train a few years later. Here his skill as an artist was quickly recognised and he worked on the rendering of designs whilst being exposed to all aspects of the jewellery trade. Once home in Germany, it wasn’t long before he set off once again, this time travelling to England where he studied and learnt as much as possible, applying his knowledge of drawing and design to a variety of decorative arts. At the outbreak of war in 1870 he returned immediately to France where he spent six months serving in the 1st battalion of the Seine regiment until March 1871. As soon as possible he made his way back to London where he remained for another year or so until finally settling back in Paris and finding work as a designer for the jeweller Lucien Falize.
This was to prove an incredibly important period in Le Saché’s life as the two men were to become not only professional collaborators but friends as well. Falize taught him much about the jewellers’ art and Le Saché found himself in a position to be able to study a wide variety of wonderful jewels both antique and contemporary. The craft of the goldsmith was to inspire Le Saché’s designs and over time he also became a knowledgeable and skilled manufacturer thanks to the careful tutelage and encouragement of his friend. In 1877 after five years of working with Falize, Le Saché left to join the highly regarded manufacturing jewellery company Baucheron et Guillain. He had recently married Baucheron’s daughter and so a move to the family business was almost inevitable and eventually he would take it over as his own. Here he began to create pieces for some of the most famous Parisian jewellery houses of the period who exhibited his pieces at the world fairs both in Paris and internationally. He also came to the attention of the American jewellers Tiffany & Co. who commissioned various pieces from him including a brooch in the form of a diamond set basket of flowers and another with cabochon amethysts which was shaped like a crown. As well as jewels he made many objet for them including a Moghul-inspired rock crystal inkwell, carved tortoiseshell parasol handles and scent bottles and ivory boxes, seals and vesta cases with decorative enamel details.
Le Saché ran his workshop for over thirty years, preferring to remain anonymous he worked to commission and sold only through agents. Never forgetting how enriching his five years with Falize had been, his workshop saw a steady stream of apprentices and craftsmen training at his benches. He was recognised by his peers in 1901 with a large silver-gilt plaque, awarded for what Henri Vever referred to as the “rare talents and absolute integrity of an excellent artist and manufacturer”. Whilst never seeking attention for himself, the quality of his work spoke for itself and his pieces are now in some of the most important jewellery collections in the world.