On 24 April, an inaugural auction will take place in Besançon. On this occasion, the auctioneer Astrid Guillon will launch her auction house which was created at the beginning of 2021. As chance would have it, Astrid was entrusted with the sale of a very fine batch of drawings and gouaches of jewellery by a client from her region. About 150 jewellery designs, mainly from Bijouterie Clerc. I’m pretty sure this name doesn’t ring a bell, yet most of the Parisians who read this article walk past this venerable house on a regular basis… Because Maison Clerc, whose building is classified as a Historic Monument, is now the Maty boutique located at 4 place de l’Opéra, at the corner of the boulevard des capucines, facing the rue de la paix and the Vendôme column which dominates the square of the same name. A prime location!
The current Maty boutique, located on the site of the Bijouterie Clerc. Photo: Maty
Clerc was founded by Charles Remy Clerc in 1874 at 64 rue de la Chaussée d’Antin. If you look closely at the front of the shop on the Place de l’Opéra, you will notice, as you look up, a sticker that indicates the creation of the house at its first address. The jeweller moved several times, first to 11 boulevard des Capucines when he took over the Bijouterie Bourguignon and kept its name. It is important to keep this in mind because the drawings that will be on sale on 24 April bear witness to the history of the company. There are Clerc stamps and Clerc & Bourguignon stamps…
Lot 42: a set of approximately 30 drawings, estimated between 40 and 60 euros. Photo: Astrid Guillon
Lot 45: ring project, another ruby and diamond project in this lot. Estimate between 50 and 80 euros. Photo: Astrid Guillon
The First World War passed and the Clerc family was extremely weakened by the painful events of 14-18. Mr Clerc died in 1915 and it was his wife, associated with his son Charles, who took over the business. When his mother died in 1924, he continued to run the business until he lost it in 1926. It was after the war that the company became Clerc & Bourguignon, but the date is unclear. It is nevertheless known that the house bears this name in the 30s and until the end of the Second World War. On his website, Bijoux et Pierres Précieuses, Jean-Jacques Richard tells of the family’s setbacks and the Aryanisation of the house after 1940. But by then, there were no more members of the Clerc family in the business. In 1946, Paul Clerc (Charles’ brother) lost his last lawsuit concerning the 1924 estate. The company continued to operate until the 1990s, when it closed its doors for good.
Advertising for Maison Clerc in the 1950s. Photo: Hprints
Lot 46: one of a set of 6 plates representing cases and minaudières. Estimate between 50 and 80 euros. Photo: Astrid Guillon
The projects presented for sale in Besançon are very beautiful. They testify to the firm’s sustained activity and to the fact that its creations are very different from one another. The house has undeniably been involved in the creation of important pieces: tiaras, massive necklaces richly set, rings with imposing centre stones… No doubt the house’s clientele was wealthy and the brand wanted to compete with the prestigious brands located in the immediate vicinity of the boutique.
Lot 48: A tiara project from a batch of 5 other plates. Estimate between 60 and 80 euros. Photo: Astrid Guillon
Lot 49: a bracelet project from a batch of 6 other plates. Estimate between 60 and 80 euros. Photo: Astrid Guillon
Among the drawings preserved, we note the presence of a few gouaches from the manufacturer Aron Novodvorsky, located at 117 boulevard Voltaire and then 11 rue Gaillon between 21 March 1916 and 3 January 1967. How did these drawings end up in this collection? I don’t know, but the drawings all come from the archives of the Maison Clerc. I have not been able to find any links between these two entities, so the mystery will remain.
Lot 41: set of 55 projects from the archives of Maison Clerc. Estimate between 100 and 200 euros. Photo: Astrid Guillon
Lot 49: Ring/pendant project from a batch of 6 other plates. Estimate between 60 and 80 euros. Photo: Astrid Guillon
See you soon and enjoy the auction!