The eye of the collector by Jean-luc Ferrand

Henry DASSON (1825-1896)

Friday 18 December 2015, by Barbara Cogollos

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]


The interest of the nineteenth century to the styles of the past evolves. In 1820 France rediscovers the neo-Gothic style of the Middle Ages, the style "troubadour", which corresponds to romantic values of the time.

Under Louis Philippe, we see to relive the neo-Renaissance style, this return to the past derives from the French’s nostalgia to the values of the old regime.

At the half of the nineteenth century, knowledge is optimum the achievement of very good copies of past centuries which we now will furnish castles.

The second empire is called "style Louis XVI-Empress" as the role of the Empress Eugénie is important in the development of this taste.

Among collectors, Englishmen are charmed and France have the privilege to have as a client King George V and the line of Rothschild. Those will be indeed assiduous Partners of the cabinetmaker Dasson.


Born in Paris and son of a shoemaker, Dasson married in 1854 with the colorist Pauline Dussob and began his professional life as a watchmaker.

He buys his business to the widow of Charles Winckelsen for 14,000 francs, began his cabinetmaker occupation and soon present his works during remarkable exhibitions where Louis XIV styles, Louis XV and Louis XVI "bloom again brilliantly ".

In 1878, we said this cabinetmaker that "newcomer to the industrial career, H.Dasson quickly created by the perfection of his works, a situation we applaud warmly" (critic of the time)

In 1889 his universal credit is unbeatable, Dasson gets great art prizes, becomes a Knight of the Legion of Honour in 1883 and officer in 1889.

He stops exercising in 1894: in October a huge auction will take place in the same workshop.

The cabinetmaker died in 1896 and is buried at the Pere Lachaise where a bust of Dallier overlooks her grave.

His production

Dasson models are mostly inspired by the eighteenth century, he created forcefully details and details of older models of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI style.

In the work of Dasson, we retain the manufacture of original models. Artist in the soul and character with imagination, he even introduced his special creations in the Universal Exhibitions.

It can draw on older models and replicate them by changing their dimensions, their motives or their veneer. His creations are totally personal and he makes series like a painter uses the same subject which declines to infinity. For example it will copy the so-called commode "Fontainebleau" Riesner to changing the marquetry, from of flowers to geometric patterns.

The support furniture is inspired by Riesner, small tables by Carlin and the happiness of the day by Weisweiler.


The work of Dasson reveals a very special refinement, the fields of tablets or drawers are veneered in ebony or mahogany moldings sometimes.

The frames are very light oak and fine, interior made of oak, mahogany or walnut rarely.

The interiors of small furniture and the visible parts of the drawers are in varnished mahogany, veneer or solid very dark and somewhat vain.

For veneers moldings, Dasson loves the Cuban mahogany, amaranth and Ambon burr that he regularly associates for his copies of Weisweiler. For those of Boulle he uses ebony and lacquer panels.

There are very few rosewood and violetwood in his production.

Often the bottom panels are made of maple gray color tobacco.

Marquetry is beautifully crafted in Dasson and drawer fronts are often decorated.

All visible parts of the cabinet are meticulously painted to the point that some of the original varnish are still well preserved.


The thickness of the doors and drawers is important. The edges are vivid.

There is also the opening of the drawers by push buttons, hidden under the shelf they make hidden openings.

The table legs are crossed by a steel rod to put the different elements that are carefully adjusted then. All elements are numbered to facilitate assembly. The same technique is used for the columns of angles fluting or caryatides.

The special decorations are the subject of a very varied production, lacquers are usually in old gold or from Japan and from Coromandel (Indian coast: Tamil Nadu). Important furniture is protected with Martin varnish and painted with old paintings.

The frames are invisible, as embedded in the wood and attached by pins.

We note the work on marble and mosaics. The favorite marble of Dasson is the brocade from Spain, then comes the vain white, pink granite, porphyry red, morello cherries red, the sarrancolin, the breach of Aleppo and the sea of green that works fine.


Of bronze formation, the quality of chiseling in Dasson is exceptional for the technique that by the inventiveness.

The ornamentation of the bronze is important, his prodigious technique, note that his master-models are of great rigor and absolute smoothness, allowing a very good record at the foundry.

Numbers subjects of his sculptures are of his own creation, like the friezes of some furniture or female caryatids on the corners or covered feet. The liner is exceptionally rich, it is also through her that we recognize the production Dasson. He even uses the bronze to frame some interior elements furniture: in his work which is not visible benefits as well as the rest of some care. It is thought the bottom of the mirror in a glass case, the corners are decorated with sculpted bronzes while they are not visible.

There is a great consistency in the crowd of details, like the friezes adorned with azure, pearls...

Matt mercury gildings dominate and very yellow gildings are subject burnishing, which gives them the relief.

The locks worked and handmade, often adorned with a shamrock.



Dasson was not stingy of cabinetmaker signatures, he stamped his works to cold iron in the wood or bronze. Sometimes several elements of the same cabinet are signed.

Quantities of items are signed, dated often, and when there is a lack of space, it is his initials "H.D" they are struck.

Note that from 1883, the works are signed "H.D and Co." because Dasson associates with "Evrard & Chestnut" and the name of the house is changed.

  • Bureau plat en placage
  • Meuble travaillé, marquetterie.

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