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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 Ruisseau; Charles 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’Enhaut, un film de Géraldine Henchoz et Jean-Frédéric Henchoz, 2007; Felicitas Oehler, Querschnitt Schweizer Scherenschnitte aus fünf Jahrhunderten, Bern, 2013, Haupt.