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Entrepreneurial Traditionalism in Nineteenth-Century France: A Study of the Patronage industriel des enfants de l'ébénisterie

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2012

Lee Shai Weissbach
Affiliation:
Lee Shai Weissbach is assistant professor of history at theUniversity of Louisville.

Abstract

The late nineteenth century was a critical epoch in the history of French industry. During this period, many French industrialists adopted, for the first time, entrepreneurial attitudes towards business. At the same time, however, traditional skilled trades continued to play an important role in the national economy. In this article, Professor Weissbach explores the attitudes and practices of nineteenth-century entrepreneurs in the French luxury trade. By focusing specifically on the Patronage industriel des enfants de l'ébénisterie—an organization established to assist, educate, and moralize children apprentices in the French furniture industry—Weissbach reveals that traditional and entrepreneurial attitudes and practices coexisted throughout the nineteenth century.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The President and Fellows of Harvard College 1983

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References

1 See Landes, David S., The Unbound Prometheus (Cambridge, Eng., 1969), 193ffGoogle Scholar; Palmade, Guy P., French Capitalism in the Nineteenth Century, Holmes, Greame M., trans. (New York, 1972), 116ffGoogle Scholar; and Wilken, Paul H., Entrepreneurship: A Comparative and Historical Study (Norwood, N.J., 1979), 102ff.Google Scholar

2 O'Brien, Patrick and Keyder, Caglar, Economic Growth in Britain and France, 1780–1914 (London, 1978), 192Google Scholar; Caron, François, An Economic History of Modern France, Bray, Barbara, trans. (New York, 1979), 101.Google Scholar

3 See Chambre de commerce de Paris, Statistique de l'industrie à Paris … pour l'année 1860 (Paris, 1864), XXII–XXIII.Google Scholar

4 The best sources of information on the nature and structure of nineteenth-century cabinetmaking in Paris are Office du travail, Rapport sur l'apprentissage dans les industries de l'ameublement (Paris, 1905)Google Scholar, passim; Pierre du Maroussem, Ébénistes du faubourg Saint-Antoine, vol. 2 of La question ouvrière (Paris, 1892)Google Scholar, passim; and Mayet, Charles, La crise industrielle: L'ameublement (Paris, 1883)Google Scholar, passim.

5 Viaux, Jacqueline, French Furniture, Paget, Hazel, trans. (New York, 1964), 175, 187–88.Google Scholar

6 Office du travail, Apprentissage, 97.

7 See Office du travail, Apprentissage, 86, 101; Dieterle and Pollen, J. H., “Meubles de luxe” in Chevalier, Michel, ed., Exposition universelle de 1867 à Paris: Rapports du jury international (Paris, 1868), vol. 3, 30Google Scholar; Vachon, Marius, “Les meubles” in Gonse, Louis, ed., Exposition universelle de 1878: Les beaux-arts et les arts decoratifs (Paris, 1879), vol. 2, 384, 402.Google Scholar

8 See Weissbach, Lee Shai, “Artisanal Responses to Artistic Decline: The Cabinetmakers of Paris in the Era of Industrialization” in Journal of Social History 26 (Winter 1982).Google Scholar

9 See [Octave] Gréard, “Des écoles d'apprentis” (Paris, 1872), passim; Anderson, R. D., Education in France, 1848–1870 (Oxford, 1975), 193ff.Google Scholar

10 Information on the history of the Lemoine firm can be gleaned from Ledoux-Lebard, Denis, Les ébénistes parisiens du XIXe siècle —1795–1870: Leurs oeuvres et leurs marques (Paris, 1965), 298, 340, 348–49Google Scholar; and Viaux, Furniture, 134, 158. The most important sources of information on the founding and the functioning of the Patronage industriel are “Déposition de M. Lemoine” in Ministère de l'instruction publique et des beaux-arts, Commission d'enquête sur la situation des ouvriers et des industries d'art (Paris, 1884), 512Google Scholar; J. Fresson, “Le Patronage industriel des enfants de l'ébénisterie” (Paris, 1884); and J. Boison, “Patronage industriel des enfants de l'ébénisterie” (Paris, 1904). See also Maroussem, Ébénistes, 241–45; and Office du travail, Apprentissage, 208–15.

11 Maroussem, Ébénistes, 220–21.

12 In the middle of the nineteenth century, some 72 percent of all the cabinetmakers of Paris were in the arrondissement of the faubourg Saint-Antoine, as were 57 percent of all Paris furniture shops. See Chambre de commerce de Paris, Statistique de l'industrie à Paris … pour les années 1847–1848 (Paris, 1851), pt. 2, 157.Google Scholar

13 Quoted in Office du travail, Apprentissage, 162.

14 Fresson, “Patronage,” 39.

15 J. Fresson, “Le meuble: La corporation des menuisiers-ébénistes” (Paris, 1887), 63.

16 Fresson, “Meuble,” 62.

17 “Déposition de M. Lemoine,” 12.

18 “Déposition de M. Lemoine,” 5.

19 See Weissbach, Lee Shai, Qu'on ne coupe le blé en herbe: A History of Child Labor Legislation in Nineteenth-Century France (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1975)Google Scholar, passim.

20 Dolfus-Francoz, Eugène, Essai historique sur la condition légale du mineur, apprenti, ouvrier d'industrie, ou employé de commerce (Paris, 1900), 5152.Google Scholar

21 Quoted in Office du travail, Apprentissage, 117.

22 Fresson, “Patronage,” 26.

23 Fresson, “Patronage,” 21 ff; Boison, “Patronage,” 1ff.

24 “Dèposition de M. Lemoine,” 7.

25 Boison, “Patronage,” 8. See also Office du travail, Apprentissage, 213.

26 Detailed reports on the annual fêtes at which the Patronage awarded its prizes were often carried in the Bulletin de la Société de protection des apprentis et enfants employés dans les manufactures; see for example vol. 8 (1875), 283–92, and vol. 11 (1878), 530–42.

27 Fourteen percent (by value) of the furniture produced in Paris was exported, according to Chambre de commerce de Paris, Statistique … pour l'année 1860, XLV.

28 “Déposition de M. Lemoine,” 7, 8, 11. See also Office du travail, Apprentissage, 163.

29 Fresson, “Meuble,” 74.

30 Maroussem, Ébénistes, 243.

31 See “Déposition de M. Lemoine,” 6; Fresson, “Patronage,” 12. For more on the entrepreneurial desire for a return to corporatism, see also the following work by the son of one of the original supporters of the Patronage industriel: Fourdinois, Henri, Etude économique et sociale sur l'ameublement (Paris, 1894).Google Scholar

32 An excellent study of paternalism in the nineteenth century, useful for understanding the situation in France, is Roberts, David, Paternalism in Early Victorian England (New Brunswick, N.J., 1979).Google Scholar See also Perrot, Michelle, “The Three Ages of Industrial Discipline in Nineteenth-Century France” in Merriman, John M., ed., Consciousness and Class Experience in Nineteenth-Century Europe (New York, 1979).Google Scholar

33 On French views of working-class childhood in the mid-nineteenth century, see Donzelot, Jacques, The Policing of Families, Hurley, Robert, trans. (New York, 1979)Google Scholar; and Lee Shai Weissbach, “Child Labor Reform under the Second Empire” (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, December 1981).

34 The first three patronages organized along craft lines were all established in 1866, and they were those in cabinetmaking, in wallpaper production, and in artificial-flower making; see Barreswil, “Deuxième rapport sur la situation des enfants employés dans les manufactures du département de la Seine” (Paris, 1866). The patronage in flower making is briefly described in Boxer, Marilyn J., “Women in Industrial Homework: The Flowermakers of Paris in the Belle Epoque” in French Historical Studies 12 (Spring 1982), 411–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

35 Fresson, “Patronage,” 38.

36 Fresson, “Patronage,” 17–18.

37 “Déposition de M. Lemoine,” 8.

38 Fresson, “Patronage,” 19; “Déposition de M. Lemoine,” 6.

39 An invitation to the Patronage's second annual ball is preserved in the Archives nationales (Paris), carton F17–12529.

40 See for example Caron, Economic History, 39–47.

41 The 1904 budget of the Patronage is reported in Boison, “Patronage,” 14. The Paris municipality was covering half of the Patronage's budget at least as early as 1892: see Maroussem, Ébénistes, 245.

42 “Déposition de M. Lemoine,” passim; Garenc, Paule, L'industrie du meuble en France (Paris, 1957), 110Google Scholar; Boison, J., L'enseignement technique des industries du meuble (Paris, 1905)Google Scholar, passim.

43 See Sedeyn, Emile, Le faubourg Saint-Antoine (Paris, 1921), 636–38Google Scholar; Office central des oeuvres de bienfaisance, Paris charitable (Paris, 1931), 617.Google Scholar

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