Abbeville has been known since the 16th century as a land of artists, in particular goldsmiths and engravers. At the end of the 19th century, the town saw the birth of one of the last great figures in this field: Jean Sgard (1891-1966).

The artist was an engraver, jeweller, coppersmith, pewter potter, painter and watercolourist. Rewarded on several occasions for his art objects, he obtained the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 1936 for his work as a goldsmith and, in a rare move, obtained a second title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 1961 for his work as an engraver.

Jean Sgard was very active in Abbeville all his life. At the age of 18, he exhibited for the first time in Paris, at the Salon d'Automne, a copper vase hammered "with tin castings". This material became his favourite alloy, which he used to make numerous objects that he showed at the biggest exhibitions, such as the one that confirmed the new style called "Art Deco" in Paris in 1925.

In 1935, the artist was approached by Charles Decaux, archivist of the Caisses d'Épargne association and general agent of the Abbeville bank. For the centenary of the Caisse d'Abbeville, he created a medal and a stained glass window. The latter will be shown for the first time in the museum on the occasion of this temporary exhibition.

Sgard's shop used to be located on the Place Sainte-Catherine, a stone's throw from the old belfry, in a beautiful 16th century half-timbered house. Unfortunately, it disappeared in the bombing of the city on May 20, 1940. The artist continued to work, but gradually gave up goldsmithing to devote himself almost entirely to engraving. A prominent member of the Société d'Émulation d'Abbeville, he produced a portrait of Boucher de Perthes in 1948 for the centenary of the publication of the prehistorian's major work, Antiquités celtiques et antédiluviennes.

Jean Sgard was awarded the Légion d'honneur by Max Lejeune in 1951. With his wife Madeleine, he then settled in Cannes for a peaceful retirement. But the artist continued to create and produced many watercolours, almost unknown until today. He died in Abbeville in 1966 and is buried in the Chapelle cemetery.

The exhibition is the first to be devoted to Jean Sgard at the Boucher de Perthes Museum since 1951. It is based on the collections of the museum, the archives and the heritage library of Abbeville, the heritage department and with the participation of many private collectors. The Caisse d'Épargne d'Abbeville is also participating in the event by lending the precious stained glass window composed by Sgard, which it has kept since 1935.

The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated 96-page book published by Inevit (Lille). This book, sold for 12 €, will become the reference work on the artist.
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