Paul Soyer came originally from the Seine-et-Marne district and from 1850 began working as a carver in Paris. He began learning the enamelling technique in order to replace the ornamental bronze in furniture decoration and in 1861 opened an engraving-enamelling workshop, rue Mauconseil, situated between the Halles and the Bonne-Nouvelle area of Paris. He then collaborated with wellknown enamellers and silver-smiths such as Claudius Popelin, Charles Duron and also Gustave Baugrand with whom he obtained his ﬁrst bronze medal in the Exposition Universelle of 1867. Following this he opened a larger workshop in the same district, 4 rue Saint-Sauveur, specializing in different enamelling techniques and especially painted enamel. This included both decoration on jewellery as well as paintings in enamels and enamelling for silver-smith’s and cabinet maker’s art work. Emule de Popelin preferred the work of the Renaissance and of the beginning of the 17th century, especially the combination of polychrome enamels with the “grisaille” technique and also the gold monochrome, cleverly used for the making of this clock. He also exhibited his work in all the French and foreign Universal Exhibitions as well as in the Union Centrale des Beaux-Arts Exhibitions applied to Industry, and he often received rewards, notably a gold medal in 1878. In 1889 he became a member of the jury receiving at the same date the prestigious order of the Legion d’Honneur.
In order to give a new artistic dimension to his workshop, Théophile Soyer’s father Paul sent him to the Beaux Arts where he followed Yvon’s and Levasseur’s courses and began working with enamels in Courbevoie before joining his father’s workshop which he took over in 1896. He began his artistic career in the 1870’s Salon with a copy of a work of Le Barbier the elder in enamel, representing Apollon killing the Python and from 1876 participated in l’Union Centrale des Beaux Arts Exhibitions applied to Industry. In the Exposition Universelle of 1889, he obtained a silver medal while his wife, Lucie Dejoux, a painter-enameller from Geneve who also worked in the Saint-Sauver workshop, received a bronze medal. Although he had received a classical training with copies of ancient paintings he was also very aware of the artistic period in which he lived and Art Nouveau greatly inspired his work on the brilliance of colours and the transparency of translucent enamels. As he was very much involved with the artistic life of the period he became a member of many associations and for a time was vice-president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Céramique et de la Verrerie, and president of the Société des Eclectiques, a humoristic association where he met Doctor Gachet In 1909 he left the rue Saint-Sauveur and opened a new workshop rue de Bondy, in the 10th district of Paris where he stayed until it closed down at the end of the First World War.
THEOPHILE SOYER (1853-1940)
PAUL SOYER (1832-1903)
JEANNE LEMERLE (1879-1967)
Jeanne, the only daughter of Théophile and Lucie worked in her parents workshop from the age of sixteen and was considered as being one of the very best female workers. She exhibited her work of « émaux d’art » in the Exposition Universelle of 1900 and participated in many Salons notably in 1909 when she presented a painting in enamels presenting Diane the Huntress. Although she stopped working in the workshop after her marriage in 1906, she still continued to practice the art of enamels for her own pleasure and as she was also very talented, she loved drawing, oil painting and embroidery. Her classical style and sure technique was as perfect for large mythological paintings as for small religious subjects or copies of the work of her friend, the seascape painter, Gustave Alaux.