Paper and poetry of the Swiss Alps The work of Louis-David Saugy

204 SAUGY, LOUIS DAVID Gérignoz 1871 - 1953 Rougemont Alp lift. Scissors cut and collage, A.d. Underlay i.d. Middle sig. 35.5x45.5 cm (LM) Louis David Saugy came from simple rural backgrounds and initially worked as a carpenter with his uncle. At the age of thirty-two he became a postman, and began to depict the characteristic features of the peasants whom he met daily. After his early retirement in 1928, he was able to devote himself entirely to cutting the scissors, and soon became known beyond the borders of the Pays d'Enhaut. His clients included numerous famous personalities as well as the Spanish royal family. Estimation CHF 20'000 EUR 19'230 USD 21'505 Surcharge CHF 60'000

Louis-David Saugy, Alplift, scissor cut and collage, 35.5X45, sold at Dobiaschofsky Auction House Bern 

Louis David Saugy was born in Gérignoz, a tiny hamlet at 1660 m, near Château-d’Œx, in the Canton of Vaud on the October 8th 1871. Until 1555 this Pays-d’Enhault region belonged to the Counts of Gruyère and by 1803 it was ruled by Bern.


The village of Gérignoz, birth place of Louis-David Saugy

With a magnificent scenery, the landscape is well kept and the villages are full of original wooden chalets, carefully scuplted or engraved. Saugy was born in the same year when Johann Jakob Hauswirth, the Swiss paper cut master, died. He was the son of Jules, a farmer and raiser, and of Marie Sophie Lenoir Pegay, teacher. Louis had an early apprenticeship: his father was used to cut big silhouette while his mother was gifted for drawing.

Louis-David Saugy, Sesons,

Louis-David Saugy, Seasons, 27,5×37,5 cm, sold at Dobiaschofsky Auction House Bern 

Louis worked as carpenter, learning from his uncle Alois, and worked as farmer since 1891. Later, at 32, he became a postman in Rougemont and he was welcomed in all the houses, where he was allowed to see Hauswirth’s paper cuts.

A street of Rougemont. Saugy was a postman in this Swiss towm

A street of Rougemont in 1907. Saugy was a postman in this Swiss town

He began to cut in his leisure time, drawing on black paper and then cut his own design. As his predecessor Hauswirth did, Saugy choose to represent in his paper cut what he saw everyday, while traveling into his country to trade as a factor: the slow climbing towards the alpine pasture with herd and rural scenes filled with the rituals and the rhythms of the seasons.

Louis-David Saugy. Farm Life,

Louis-David Saugy, Farm Life, scissor cut and collage, 31X39, sold at Dobiaschofsky Auction House Bern 

He added ornaments as heart and flowers. He preferred monochromatic black paper cut with scissor, but also large multi color compositions. His paper cuts are filled with details and characters, as a shepherds cooking food in a cauldron in the interior of a hut, or a gamekeeper batting a poacher.

Louis-David Saugy Papercut Folkway

Louis-David Saugy, Alplift, scissor cut and collage, 35.5X45, sold at Dobiaschofsky Auction House Bern 

He was extremely demanding in his paper cut efforts, so he sold his first artwork at 40, when he was confident enough in his work.

Louis-David Saugy, Bauerngluck, 26x42

Louis-David Saugy, Bauernglück, 26×42, sold at Dobiaschofsky Auction House Bern 

Saugy sold his paper cut in all the dwellings of the valley, personalizing the piece upon request. He soon acquired international fame: an exhibition was organized in Geneva and his paper cut where sold in United States and Great Britain, but he did never lower the quality of his cuts.

Saugy at work in his house. Photo from Musée du Vieux Pays-d'Enhault Château-d’Oex

Saugy at work in his house. Photo from Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhault Château-d’Oex

Many celebrities form all over the world came to his house to visit him and see how he worked. In 1928 at 57, due to health issues, he quit his job as postman. He devoted his time to produce and sell Gentian liqueur and to his beloved paper cutting.


Saugy smiles holding one of his paper cut. Photo from Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhault Château-d’Oex

Saugy was used to work on a couch with a portable desk, smoking his pipe. In “Nature at the points of the scissors” we can see the artist at work, filmed on Christmas Eve 1950.

He cut his individual silhouettes with a tiny scissor and them he placed on the background paper to create a pleasant composition; using tweezers he placed a drop of glue on the back of each element and he hold it in place with a long hat pin.

Louis-David Saugy, Peaceful farming life, 1940, 25×40.5 cm, Dobiaschofsky Auction House Bern 

 Unfortunately, despite Saugy’s effort to choose the right glue, the one he use deteriorated leaving brownish stains on the background paper. He died at Rougemont on July 5th 1953, soon after a big fire destroyed the centre of the village.
The Saugy Chalet in Rougemont

The Saugy Chalet in Rougemont

His amazing artworks are in the collection of the Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhaut à Château-d’Œx and are sold in antique markets and international auctions.

Louis-David Saugy, Alp Life,

Louis-David Saugy, Alp Life, 26×42 cm Dobiaschofsky Auction House Bern 


Bibliography: Louis-David Saugy, Manuel sur la fabrication du fromage de Gruyère, Impr. V. Fatio, 1895; Gottfried Keller, Conrad-Ferdinand Meyer et Jérémias Gotthelf, Trad. inédite by Richard Walter, Trois nouvelles suisses, Lausanne, 1943, La Guilde du Livre; Christian Rubi, Scherenschnitte aus hundert Jahern. Johann Jakob Hauswirth, Louis Saugy und Christian Schwizgebel. Ein Beitrag zur schweizerischen Volkskunstforschung, Bern, Stuttgart, 1959, Hans Huber; Christian Rubi, Papierschnitt, Scherenschnitt, Schablonenschnit. Ein Anleitungsbuch, 1970; Claude Allegri, Louis Saugy. La vie et l’œuvre du découpeur de Rougemont, Genève, 1977, Editions du RuisseauCharles Apothéloz, Christophe Bernoulli, René Creux, Meisterwerke des Scherenschnitts J.J. Hauswirth, L. Saugy, Zürich, 1978, Buchclub Ex Libris; Charles Apothéloz, Christophe Bernoulli, René Creux, Deux imagiers du Pays d’Enhau tJ.J. Hauswirth, L. Saugy, Paudex, 1978, Ed. de Fontainemore; Charles Apothéloz, ed. by Laura Casalis, transl. from the French by Michael Langley, Paper cuts by Johann-Jakob Hauswirth and Louis-David Saugy, London, 1980, Thames and Hudson; Guy Filippa et al., Blick in eine Idylle Schweizer Volkskunst und naive Malerei aus vier Jahrhunderten, Bern, 1983, Benteli; J.-J. Hauswirth, L. Saugy, C. Schwizgebel, Les découpages du Pays d’Enhaut et du Saanenland, Flendruz, 1996, Editions Centre du Découpage Claude Allegri; Alfred Schneider, Vom Baum zum Lebensbaum Bild und Sinnbild im Scherenschnitt (De l’arbre à l’arbre de vie : présence et symbole dans le découpage), Flendruz, 1996 Editions Centre du Découpage Claude Allegri; Jean-Frédéric Henchoz, Louis Saugy, 1871-1953, exposition, Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhaut, Château-d’Oex, 22 décembre 2007 – 2 mars 2008, Château-d’Oex, 2007, Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhaut; La nature au bout des ciseaux hommage aux découpeurs du Pays-d’Enhautun film de Géraldine Henchoz et Jean-Frédéric Henchoz, 2007; Felicitas Oehler, Querschnitt Schweizer Scherenschnitte aus fünf Jahrhunderten, Bern, 2013, Haupt.



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