Gaston Suisse was born into a family of artists, and his father regularly took him to the Jardin des Plantes, where he would observe animals and make sketches. At the age of 15, he met Paul Jouve, an already famous and established artist, at the Jardin des Plantes. Their shared love for animals, observation, and drawing brought them close and marked the beginning of a very long friendship. Jouve spoke so enthusiastically about the zoos in Antwerp and Hamburg that two years later, Suisse accompanied him to Antwerp, where he also met the sculptor Bugatti, a friend of Jouve.

As a student at the École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, he learned the basics of lacquer work in 1913 and received two gold medals in 1913 and 1914 for his first works. He traveled to Algiers to work on the decoration of the Alhambra and explored the Maghreb. Gaston Suisse created furniture and objects with Chinese lacquer, decorated in an abstract and geometric style that became his signature. As a pioneering artist of what would later be known as the Art Deco period, Gaston Suisse immediately achieved great success and became a member of the Salon d'Automne from his first exhibition. Critics praised his work, and M. Tisserand wrote in the magazine L'Art Vivant: "We particularly highlight Gaston Suisse's lacquer works. He represents lacquers where his invention magically unfolds. We are pleased to see that they are highly appreciated by the visitors of the salon. Nothing is more charming than this art treated with a refined spirit eager for discoveries." M. Derys in Mobilier et Décoration also praised Suisse's lacquered panels, combining richness with the freest and most exuberant sense of decorative composition. The magazine Les Echos d'Arts also reported on the quality and originality of the folding screens exhibited that year.

Gaston Suisse exhibited annually at the Salon de la Nationale des Beaux-Arts and the Salon des Artistes Animaliers. With his friends from the animalier group, including Jouve, Sandoz, Tremont, Godchaux, Petersen, and Guyot, he participated in all the major salons.

In addition to his work as a lacquer artist, Suisse created fabric designs for Madame Duchesne, executed stained glass cartoons for Gruber and Perzel, designed decor for the Paris Opera, and costumes for the Comédie Française. He exhibited at the Brandt gallery with the animalier group, designing interior grilles and radiator covers to be executed in wrought iron. He created furniture, folding screens, and decorative panels for ensembliers such as Jansen, Straub, Brandt, Ruhlmann, and Boyer. He also crafted a hundred lacquered boxes for Hermès, intended for sale in the United States. In 1930, he won the Grand Prize at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and a gold medal at the Paris International Colonial Exhibition in 1931. He received another gold medal at the Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1934 and the Puvis de Chavannes Prize in 1936.

Suisse's work was not limited to representing fauna and flora. His highly diverse oeuvre also included landscapes, characters, and immense compositions, such as the one commissioned by the city of Paris for the 1937 International Exhibition, now in the collections of the Musée des Années 30 in Boulogne-Billancourt. For his contributions, he again received a gold medal at the 1937 International Exhibition.

After the war, he continued to exhibit regularly at the Salon des Artistes Animaliers, the Salon d'Automne, and the Cercle Volney, participating in numerous exhibitions in museums across France and abroad.

We would like to thank Monsieur Dominique Suisse, the artist's rightful heir, for confirming the accuracy of this article and providing valuable information and photos of his father's works. Dominique Suisse has also created a website dedicated to Gaston Suisse's work, which can be found at the following address: We highly recommend visiting it.


Photos : Dominique SUISSE