About this piece

The French artist Jacques Nam (Lehmann) made this beautiful lacquer. He was one of the few, along with Jean Dunand and Gaston Suisse, for example, who mastered the art of lacquer work at the time.

This representation of a standing polar bear is engraved in the lacquer, with various shades of white and grey lacquer applied to a slightly deepened black ground (relief). In addition, Nam applied gold leaf around the black surface. The work is made on a wooden panel which is also on the back lacquered in red.

The work is signed with the monogram of Jacques Nam on the top right of the black background.
On the back is an old label where the original title is written "Ours blanc".
A plaque with the name 'Jacques Nam' is also attached to the original black lacquered frame.

Jacques Nam, born Jacques Lehmann, (Paris, 1881-1974) was an illustrator, painter and sculptor.

He was best known for his portraits of animals, he had a great passion for cats. In addition to his many works of art in which cats and other animals were central, he also painted portraits, nudes and landscapes. He has also worked as an illustrator for various magazines and newspapers, he designed posters as well.

Jacques Nam grew up in a very musical family, he already had a huge passion for cats as a child and drew them a lot. His talent was noticed and he went to the art academy in Paris (École des Beaux-Arts), he was a student of Jean-Léon Gérôme. He also worked as an illustrator at the time. In addition, his love for animals was so great that he specialized in them, he often visited the Jardin des Plantes to study the animals. He was especially interested in the felines, but also exotic animals and large predators had his interest.

He soon had success. His style of painting was very stylized and decorative, his work is therefore very representative of the Art Deco. He won a gold medal at the World Exhibition (l'Exposition des Arts décoratifs et Industriels moderne) in 1925. In 1926 he was awarded with the Chevalier de la legion d'Honneur.

Besides painting and drawing, Jacques Nam also made lacquer works, a very difficult and labour-intensive technique that just a few artists mastered.
The Japanese lacquer artist Seizo Sugawara who came to Paris around 1910 taught this technique to a number of artists, including Eileen Gray and Jean Dunand, to name a few of his most famous students. The paintwork became a very exclusive art. Jacques Nam has made several panels, almost always with an animal in the lead. Several panels are known that have the same structure as this panel with the polar bear, the black lacquer with the image and the gold leaf around it. The animal is depicted in a deepened relief. He also made large folding screens with lacquer. Nam's work was already collected by the major collectors.

His illustration of books also took up a large part of Jacques Nam's oeuvre. For example, he worked with Colette, with whom he was good friends. He made the illustrations for 'Sept dialogues de bêtes' in 1912, together with André Demaison and Claude Ferrère.

Nam was also a sculptor, poet and musician. Many of his cat sculptures are made in porcelain at Manufacture de Sèvres, his bronzes are also still in demand and are reminiscent of the works of the sculptor Sandoz in style.

Jacques Nam died at the age of 92 in his Paris apartment.

His work can be seen in various museums including Musée Poulain in Vernon and Musée La Piscine in Roubaix. His work is still highly sought after and is also included in several major private collections worldwide.

- ‘Wat is art nouveau & art deco waard', deel I&II, redactie Rob Zeegers Janny Stuurman-Aalbers en Reinold Stuurman, Uitgeverij Scriptum Art , Schiedam, NL en Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon, Gent, België, 2001. Part I, p.288.

- Thierry Roche; 'Dictionnaire biographique des sculpteurs des années 1920-30', Édition Beau-Fixe, 2007. P.322.

- Emmanuel Bénézit: Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs,
dessinateurs et graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays. Édition Gründ, Paris,1999. Volume 8, p.456.


Good condition


Length: 80 cm (31,5")
Width: 67 cm (26,38")

approximately 1930


Artist / atelier:
Jacques Nam (Lehmann),