"The toy is the first initiation of the child into the Art, or rather it is for him the first realization, and, the adulthood come there, the sophisticated realizations will not give  in his spirit the same hot season,
neither the same enthusiasms, nor the same faith. " 

                                                                      ( Ch. BAUDELAIRE. 
" Morality of the toy ", Le Monde Littéraire (the literary World)  ( 17 avrils1853)

Mister Jacques DAMIOT bequeathed in to the city of NEUILLY the wonderful automatons of his magnificent collection there is already a few years.   
But who was Jacques DAMIOT? A fine, subtle, passionate and generous collector, whose reasoned collection brilliant is known and appreciated by the amateurs of the whole world.

View of the Museum of Neuilly when it still sheltered the collection Damiot

So it is with emotion, curiosity and infinitely interest that we discovered both articles below:

In the first one of these two articles (number 1 of the " Semaine de Suzette " of December 6th, 1951), Jacques DAMIOT tells us his visit of the Collection of Dolls and Automatons at Madam of GALÉA Museum. Prestigious collection if it is, which is, since 1974, sheltered to the National Museum of MONACO, 17, Avenue de la Princesse Grâce, disposal for the moment not long ago.

This one of the most important collections of the world with its two thousand parts, of the XVIIIth and XIth century, real masterpieces of miniaturization, collected in a magnificent villa with bell towers, the Villa Sauber, situated by the sea, built by Charles Garnier architect of the operas of Paris and Monte Carlo which surrounds a garden collecting about forty varieties of rosesJacques DAMIOT accompanies his godchildren Miquette and Bouzi, to whom -apparently- he recommended to be very well held. Read rather:

Miquette et Bouzi visit:

"  You are invited to visit the museum of madam de Galéa's dolls,  announce godfather Jacques. " But I warn you that you will not should say a word, unless we question you, and especially, touch nothing. " This recommendation worries us a little. We are tempted by dolls, of course, however we risk of many not to amuse us if it is forbidden to push an exclamation.

 So next Thursday, when godfather rings at the railing of a charming mansion, we do not know too much which face we have to make.

The salon of white satin seems not at all indicated to play the railroad and Mrs de Galéa's arrival, very impressive with her beautiful snow-white hair, does not tempt us to break GodfatherJacques. It is obligingly that we get up to visit the famous museum.

 In the garden, hidden under trees, here is the domain of dolls.

Hardly entered, we remain dumb of delight. On every wall and up to the ceiling are aligned in big shop windows of the tin soldiers of all the periods and in all the uniforms. -

" There are approximately forty five thousand, explains Mrs de Galéa. These wooden soldiers served as toys to l'Aiglon, the son of Napoleon and, in this showcase, you see all the helmets and all the hairstyles in reduction."

 We go up then a staircase papered with very funny idealized images, which drives the visitors towards another shop window.

"` Here, they are all kings and all the queens of France, since Pharamond until Louis XVI. "

A room is installed as a theater of the XVIIIth century: about fifty dolls in suits of time look at the scene where evolve comedians. And behind? But they are wings! Other dolls get dressed and we are quite surprised not hearing them to repeat their role.

In the Opera under Louis-Philippe

In another room, it is the wedding which leads a bride to the altar where a priest officiates, surrounded with children of chorus.

 Here is a suite of apartments, winter gardens, lounges, bedrooms, dining rooms. On the table raises tasty one tiered cake. Everything is for the size of dolls, seats, beds, lusters, candelabras, everything is so richly decorated with old real furniture.

 In the miniature kitchen, brass instruments glisten, the vegetables that the peeled maid seems freshly extracted.

Here is maintaining a street lined with houses facades of which open, letting see inside in reduction. We would like to be dwarf to live there and we dream both that we would have enough many we amused there.

It is now enough to push a door, to discover a magic world, where hundred characters of any sizes, any country, are engaged in varied exercises

   A blackman rolls white eyes and distributes cards, a lady in crinoline plays the piano, a band of twenty monkeys executes in a theater of the XVIIIth century a concert in which the agreements get involved in the musical sounds which wake up in all the corners of the room.

A clown makes pirouettes at the top of a scale, an Indiangirl charms a snake, two drinkers play dice on a table of cabaret, boats rock on unsettled seas and Mrs de Sévigné passes in a golden chair, carried by two lackeys in satin liveries. 

We go from one to another, having put carefully our hands behind the back:
 it is so attractive to touch these automatons !
The visit is far from being ended. In the upper floor, a whole gallery is dedicated to fairy tales and to tales of Perrault. The little red riding hood is eaten by the Wolf. Cinderella loses her slipper. Snow White sleeps in her crystal coffin. Blue beard wants to kill his wife, while sister Anne watches, not without impatience, for the riders who will save her sister .

Farther, here is the christ child's crib, under a twinkling sky, Bethlehem wakes up to run to adore the Child God. The Virgin, Saint Joseph, Kings of Witches are very tall, but the crowd which runs up of the bottom of the campaign consists of characters whose size decreases, what gives an extraordinary deep impression. Two thousand characters, for the most part of the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, adorned with luxurious or poor clothes, represent all the social classes running up towards the divine Child.

An invisible music plays old Christmas songs.

It is necessary to come down again, not on earth, but at the ground floor.
 After the lingerie where are exposed the bottoms of dolls, their shoes, their hats and their jewels, after the big doll the Renaissance and the dolls of the XVIIIth century, here is the "nail" of the Museum, the marvel of the marvels, the walk of the Champs-Elysées.
Under chestnut trees, dolls bigger than girls show their luxurious toilet. Carriages in their size, pulled by horses walk elegant women. And the visit of the Museum ends on this vision.


 Elegant women of the second Empire, in the wood of Boulogne

        P.c.c. JACQUES DAMIOT

 In another article we find Miquette and Bouzi

... Our two young friends had already and also visited the shop of automatons of their uncle and godfather, as teaches it to us  "La Semaine de Suzette" (the Week of Suzette of October 20th, 1949, number 42, page 494. (This article is signed " J.D. Let be Jacques DAMIOT's initials, the shop of which was in 11 of the street Jacob, the House Gautier Languereau being opposite, in the number 18.)

 if you are wise at the end of the holidays, you will visit your uncle in Paris. Miquette released the tamed female duck in which it tried t (spend) a charming pearl necklace, and, which takes advantage of it to save itself. Bouzii stops his electric train and both rush on mom's knees who knits in her armchair.

- Yes, but at the uncle house you should touch nothing, not to run, not to shout, to know how to to be at the table well and especially to look at automatons without approaching them.
Miquette and Bouzi promise and dream about everything and during fortnight of this formidable uncle who arrives in automobile, kiss them a little, scolds them a lot, walks them in the city, fills them with cakes and candies and restarts very fast towards the mysterious shop where he lives in the middle of the dolls which dance, play the guitar, drink and smoke as grown-ups.

                                     Fortnight later. The street Jacob sleeps in its fresh shadow).

Children ! Look... Here is the celebrate  house Gautier Languereau who publishes the Semaine de Suzette.

- Oh ! Miquette, it is from there that comes your Bleuette, and in the front window there are the albums of Becassine!

Bouzi adores Becassine  the adventures of which he reads to her small sister

. They are enchanted to know the house of their favorite heroin.

And just opposite, there is a house of the uncle.
The shop window is half closed by big blue curtains and when we enter everything is plunged into a half-darkness. Hardly if we distinguish the uncle and his partner, the Godfather of Miquettee demi-obscurité. 

Opposite, 18 of the street Jacob

Uncle is tall and very thin, with hair drawn up as a crest; he has a little looks like a wading bird; Godfather is exactly, quite pink, quite smiling. After the bursts of the arrival, Miquette who dies from impatience and dares to touch nothing, asks Godfather:

" Godfather, the beautiful doll which is there, moves she alone, say ? "

" You go to see, it is the Spanish dancer. "  

And Godfather pushes a button. The doll turns little on herself, raises the left leg, made several beatings of foot, raise the arm and shakes her tambourine stocked with sequins. And she shakes her long hair, closes eyes in the big lashes while a small music plays "España".
-" Hat is attractive! What a beautiful dress with steering wheels! It is of the real lace, says grandmother who kept her good yes

Bouzi does not touch the small bear.  You are going to make spill its glass. You see good that there is some water inside. "
It gets up and it is going to drink; the glass is empty now, but the bear holds a bottle in the other leg and it fills again its tumbler of a beautiful clear water

 " How can he begin again so many times? The bottle is so small! Where thus goes all this water which it drinks ? "

 " I shall explain it to you later. If you want, I shall also tell you the story of automatons. There is of very old it already existed there at Egyptians; but as you are too young, it would not still interest you. "-

" Not, show them rather the tightrope walker, it will be funnier for them than a technical lesson ! When they will be adult, you will lend them mister . Chapuis's beautiful book, " Le Monde des Automates  ("The world of Automatons ")

 In front of a tree in flower, a thread is stretched  on two pickets, a girl in mauve dress stands there, a golden pendulum between arms. She  oscillate, looking for her balance, and suddenly dashes, moves forward one foot, then the other one, slides throughout the thread, makes entrechats and, o miracle! By three times rises in the air and falls again, then restarts behind greeting friendly of the head a small man sat under the tree, which applauds all his strengths.

              The children are petrified by admiration.

Godfather has, to pull them of their pondering, to give a cigarette to a great ape dressed in a " Directoire "
costume. The monkey lights itself its cigarette, go towards its mouth, moves chops, inhales and rejects a stream of smoke.--

It is incredible as it smokes fast : a real locomotive. But it opens and closes so strange, golden eyes and watch of so big teeth as Miquette, taken by fear, begins roaring.

 To calm her, it is necessary to blackmail the small birds and to start up the most attractive musics.

Moreover, it is the time to leave. We shall mean seeing the others. Goodbye to the godfathers.


We take back the train, we return home, we cannot even tell it to Mom : it will be for tomorrow , we are too much sleepy.
And Miquette, in her small bed in the curtains of muslin, dreams about a strange quite blue room where sheeps dance, where the monkeys smoke, where the uncle Jacques became a big very crested heron which steals everywhere noiselessly and chill of a big blow of beak the big stomach of the godfather Jules, who floats in the sight as a balloon.


P.S. We thank very deeply:

- Nadine HOUY, who to allow us to cheer up this article, found in the number of January, 1948 of the ILLUSTRATION, the photos above , taken during the Exposition of the collection of Madam de GALÉA, to the Museum Cognac-Jay, at that the period  25 Boulevard of Capucines. It is also Nadine HOUY who communicated us the text of the quotation in exergue. -

As soon as possible, Poupendol will take out a site to describe
you the extraordinary collection which possessed Madam de Galea.


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