Albert Gilles, creator of this beautiful copper wall charger or plaque, was born in Paris in 1895. As a child he was introduced to the art of metal embossing or repoussé, a French word that means “pushed up.” After emigrating to California in the 1930’s, he decorated homes for Walt and Roy Disney and did commission work for Mae West and Pope Pious XII, among others. After moving to Quebec and specializing in church decorations, he opened his own studio. He passed away in 1979 but his family is still carrying on with the techniques he taught them, at a gallery they maintain in Quebec.
Repoussé work became very popular during the Arts and Crafts movement that began in the late 1800s. The Arts and Crafts movement emphasized things that were made by hand, not mass produced, and this handwrought charger entitled “Marguerite-Daisy” reflects the aesthetics of the movement. The 12 inch round diameter piece has three panels, each with a different flower on a stippled background and surrounded by fluid yet angular lines. The signature “A Guilles” is embossed on the front (see photo #4) and the back has a textured finish called “metal flocking” (see photo #3). There is a round ring attached to the back for hanging on the wall, although the charger can also be a shelf sitter. The piece has developed a lovely old patina and should not be cleaned with any polish.