Gault History

Historical Information

The following historical information about the Gault miniature houses is primarily based on the following sources:

  • Direct communications with Dominique Gault and Patrick Perrault
  • Internet pages archival systems
  • Articles in France newspapers

The history is a bit lengthy, so sit back comfortably and enjoy!

The Early Years (early 1980’s)

Jean-Pierre Gault is an architect and artist born in Bordeaux in 1940 and is primarily a creator of artistic paintings. In the early 1980’s, Jean-Pierre saw miniature terracotta houses made by an artisan in Ibiza and started developing the idea. As a resident of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France – a beautiful medieval town – he noticed tourists taking photos photos of the old historic streets and houses and came to the realization that aside for postcards, there were no products available for tourists to take home with great memories of the region. He initially made miniature houses out of wood tin and porcelain, with windows marked with a branding iron, but the efforts and costs of such creation was prohibitive.

Jean-Pierre then met with Jean Derval (1925-2010), a well-known ceramist from Vallauris, France, who has actually worked with Picasso. Their collaboration over a few years allowed them to develop and fine-tune the fabrication process for creating miniature houses in ceramic. Upon the creation of the first houses, Jean Derval ceased to be involved, however remained as a great friend to Jean-Pierre (and his brother Dominique), who are both extremely grateful for him and his contribution. The following sets of miniatures houses depicting Provence and Paris date from the early 1980’s and are credited to Jean Derval and Jean-Pierre Gault in a book where the photo appeared.

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Jean-Pierre developed some revolutionary techniques for the creation of the first Provence ceramic houses, such as extruding sections, templates for slanted/cut-off corners, and roof-making devices.

The first houses came out in 1983 made in Jean-Pierre’s garage, on Casse-coup street in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. He continued to refine aspects of the techniques and wall colors and realized a small but interesting success with tourists.

In 1984, Dominique (Jean-Pierre’s brother) financed for a small boutique at 41 rue Grande (also known at the time as 41 Place de la Grande Fontaine), the main road of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Dominique Gault was born in 1946 and is an entrepreneur / business man. Interesting note; this fountain near Jean-Pierre’s boutique was used as the model for an accessory to the miniature scenes.

On February 27, 1984, Jean-Pierre filed for his first brand name called “LES COMPAGNONS DE ST PAUL”, with a logo depicting a hand holding a miniature building. St Paul references St Paul de Vence, France.

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I have however never found any products bearing that brand. The earliest pieces I found have the following inscription on the bottom:

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Near the end of 1984, Jean-Pierre presented to Dominique his first Paris miniature houses and asked his help to finance and boutique in Paris. The shop was located at 206 rue de Rivoli and the façade was ornate by original sculptures by Jean Derval and Jean-Pierre Gault.

The Official Beginning of the Gault Houses (1985)

The Paris boutique opens in June 1985. The success is such that a large portion of the stock of miniature houses is sold out by August. The forecast of the yearly revenue is realized in just 3 months. Facing this unexpected success, Jean-Pierre becomes overwhelmed by the workload and asks Dominique to take charge of the business, which is not something that was ever expected by either of them.

On July 23, 1985, Jean-Pierre registered a new brand called “Jean Pierre Gault”, with the word “Gault” in the signature style that eventually became the logo and the stamp on all the pieces.

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Less than three weeks later on August 9, 1985, Jean Pierre Gault registered a third brand called “ARCHIMINI”, a short for Architecture Miniature. (There was no logo associated with this brand but seemed to have a business purpose and was re-registered for another 10 years by his brother Dominique when Jean Pierre’s registration expired on August 9, 1995, making it valid until 2005).

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At this point around 1985 and for a short period of time, the following logo is stamped on the underside of the pieces

Starting late 1985, based on an essential demand from collectors the focus was put on miniature boutiques and shops rather that just residential houses. The painting of storefronts and window scenes delighted collectors.

Starting in 1986, Dominique runs the business completely and Jean-Pierre’s role is of an artistic consultant (until 1992, with occasional advice until 1996), as he decides to follow his main passion of creating painting. The main artist at this time is Christian Leguellec. At this point, Dominique travels throughout France and other countries and participates in various conventions. The success is immediate – television appearances, radio interviews, articles in newspapers and magazines becomes Dominique’s daily life from 1986 to 1990.

 Gault Houses in the 1990’s

Across the business, the staff of salespeople, sculptors, and other personnel, grew to over 100 employees. There was a second location in Paris for Galerie Architecture Miniature Gault located at 39 Avenue de L’Opéra, shown at the bottom right of the building with the Gault logo on the yellow awning:

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While houses of Provence and Paris were the main series, several others were created (visit the Gault Original page for more information). Japanese tourists were very fond of the Gault houses and in fact a lady name Natsuyo Nogawa wrote a book titled Gault-House Miniature Ceramic published in 1991. 

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The book is now very hard to find but contains great information and photos. She met and interviewed Jean-Pierre and Dominique. Here’s is a photo of them (circa 1990), with Dominique on the left and Jean-Pierre on the right:

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At the time of the book (1991), Gault made houses for 8 regions or cities, along with the details of the sets of buildings within these regions or cities. They were: Provence, Paris, Alsace, London, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice, and San Francisco. See the Gault Original page for more pictures from the book. 

More series were created after that:

France: Corsica (Corse),  Brittany (Bretagne) and a few houses from Toulouse

Italy: Tuscany (Toscane), particularly San Gimignano

USA: Some traditional American houses and at the request of Walt Disney, Main Street Disney

There were also a few houses for Vienna, which in Dominique’s opinion are of a rare beauty (see the Gault Original page for a photo).

Gault Houses in the mid 1990’s

In 1995, a new artist named Patrick Perrault joined the team. Interesting story about how Patrick got the job; after seeing an ad for Gault looking for miniature painting, Patrick made a miniature version of his resume! A very creative approach that contributed to him getting the position. 

At that time, the following were the known key people involved (and their initials may be found on Gault houses with the Gault stamp), in addition to Dominique Gault and Patrick Perrault:

  • Dany Minel – painting
  • Corinne (Coco) last name unknown – painting
  • Corinne Bitan – stamping
  • Margault last name unknown – stamping
  • Myriam Halm – stamping
  • Martine Giuliano – Chimist and Ceramic Baking Specialist
  • Yseult Muniglia – Miniature painting
  • Lily Pan – stamping
  • Didier Herbin – stamping and painting
  • Christian Leguellec – stamping
  • Eric Lageiste – staming

In 1996, the business was sold to Enesco France, where Dominique worked for a period of time as a General Manager, and Patrick Perrault’s role expanded to become the main artist. Over time, Patrick learned how to do the entire fabrication process.

Around this timeframe, a new brand called “J Carlton by Dominique Gault” was conceived. The name “J Carlton” was invented by Dominique as a fictitious character based on the InterContinental Carlton Cannes Hotel in France.

In addition to the Gault Original line in ceramic, there were two lines of J Carlton pieces: one made of plaster, the other in resin.

There were also a few houses for Vienna, which in Dominique’s opinion are of a rare beauty. Here is a photo:

Gault Houses in the mid 1990’s

In 1995, a new artist named Patrick Perrault joined the team. Interesting story about how Patrick got the job: after seeing an ad for Gault looking for miniature painting, Patrick made a miniature version of his resume! A very creative approach that contributed to him getting the position. 

In 1996, the business was sold to Enesco France, where Dominique worked for a period of time as a General Manager, and Patrick Perrault’s role expanded to become the main artist. Over time, Patrick learned how to do the entire fabrication process.

Around this timeframe, a new brand called “J Carlton by Dominique Gault” was conceived. The name “J Carlton” was invented by Dominique as a fictitious character based on the Carlton hotel in France

In addition to the Gault Original line in ceramic, there were two lines of J Carlton pieces: one made of plaster, the other in resin.

Gault Original (Ceramic) Houses in the 2000’s

The ceramic artists continued the Gault Original ceramic houses until 2001, then Enesco decided to be dedicated to the J Carlton brand and integrated or laid off the last ceramists. Enesco eventually also abandoned the J Carlton line made of plaster and focused solely on fabrication in resin.

Eventually, all Gault boutiques closed however Dominique converted the 39 Avenue de L’Opéra location into Boutique Soizick which was managed by his wife Dorothée. Boutique Soizick sold art of ceramic and other materials, and also sold both the Gault Original and J Carlton houses. While Enesco did not produce the Gault Original (ceramic) houses anymore, Patrick Perrault acquired the tools, stamps and kiln from Enesco in order to continue making them personally, but the economic crash of 2008 made things difficult to sustain sales.

Here are photos of the boutique taken in 2009: On the second photo, the ceramic houses – Gault Original – are seen on the shelves located on the right. The resin houses are on the shelves located on the left, which are smaller in scale.

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One of the boutique’s street windows showcased the miniature scenes, both resin and ceramic:

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At the time of this visit at the boutique, the Euro currency was quite high and the ceramic pieces came at a high price. An inquiry  about a specific Paris ceramic building (Cafe de la Paix) was answered with a price of 224 Euros. I was told that the artist (still Patrick Perrault) can be commissioned to make it, and it would take 2-3 months.

Gault Original (Ceramic) Houses in the 2010-today

In August 2010, I received a broadcast email from Dominique Gault stating that after two years of closure of the Gault workshop due to expensive production costs, the production and sale of Gault houses was starting again, with new products available at the Soizick boutique. Patrick Perrault had re-started the business, but unfortunalty the effort was not successful . Dominique sold the Soizick boutique in 2010 and according to my research the Soizick closed by the new owner sometime around 2014.

Today the Gault Original (ceramic) houses can be found as resale on the internet from collectors selling them on eBay, estate sales sites, etc. The Provence pieces tend to be the easiest to find, as there were produced in greater numbers than the other series, followed by Paris pieces. The other series can be harder to find.

The ceramic pieces have the GAULT stamp on the buildings (usually the back or a side), like the one shown in the photo on the left. In the earlier days (from about 1986 to 1989), the stamp looked like this, sometimes with or without the sculptor’s initials.

Starting about 1990, the GAULT stamp also included the year it was made, and there sculptor’s initials:

If you hold a ceramic piece and a resin piece of similar size, the piece will be heavier. Ceramic pieces however are more fragile and can chip easier than resin pieces.

The J Carlton resin pieces (and plaster pieces when they were made for a short duration) typically have a number printed on the underside of the piece, along with “J Carlton by Dominique GAULT” in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, like the photo below, or just “J Carlton” after that time. See the J Carlton page for more information about the J Carlton houses.

Figurines

While the focus of this history is on the houses, it is important to mention that Dominique personally created the design for metal figurines, vehicles, and other small pieces with the help of a great sculptor, which are still produced today. The figurines are made by a artist from France, Jean-Pierre Lobel, who started had a business in Poland and moved it to Madagascar in 1995. His business is called Art Miniature and his website is www.figurine-artminiature.com however the figurines for J Carlton are not sold through him directly, they are sold through J Carton.

The Gault Brothers and Patrick Perrault Today

Jean-Pierre Gault was in interviewed on a France television show called La Grande Emission that aired on March 4, 2016, where he talked about his miniature houses and brought sample pieces. Today he focuses on his paintings and other artwork in his home town of Villeneuve-Loubet, France.

Dominique Gault and his wife Dorothée, today they own and operate a business name France Haie specializing in artificial hedges, also in Villeneuve-Loubet, France. Dominique is also very involved in his community.

As for Patrick Perrault, after stopping the production of Gault Original (ceramic) houses around 2010, Patrick started design and photography businesses which is his focus today. In February 2017, Dominique invited maybe members of the Gault houses and Enesco family for a dinner. Here’s a photo (Dominique is 5th from the right with the light blue shirt and Patrick is 4th from the left with the hat):

Visit the Gault Original and J Carlton pages for more information and photos. Thank you!