Henri Sauvage

Biographical information

Full nameFrédéric-Henri•Sauvage
Used nameHenri•Sauvage
Born10 May 1873 in Rouen, Seine-Maritime (FRA)
Died21 March 1932 in Paris XVe, Paris (FRA)
NOC France


Henri Sauvage studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1890-95 but left the school without a degree. Subsequently, he worked in his father’s factory for decorative wall hangings. He exhibited his drawings at the salons of the Societe nationale des Beaux-Arts. In addition to wall hangings, he designed furniture, jewelry, book titles, and advertising. He was particularly inspired by a trip to Brussels in 1897.

Sauvage’s first building commission in 1898 was a villa for the well-known cabinetmaker Louis Majorelle (1859-1926) of Nancy. The asymmetrical house, with light, flowing rooms, hints at the free-form layout of the modernism to come. From then on, his buildings and projects proved to be exceptional and of the highest quality. In 1902 he opened a joint architectural office with Charles Sarazin (1873-1950) and built several temporary pavilions for the Paris World’s Fair.

In 1903, the partners founded the Societe des logements hygiéniques à bon marché (Society of Hygienic Housing at a Cheap Price), which aimed to promote affordable, healthy housing. For multi-story-housing, he designed terrace houses, which he developed into visionary high-rises and pyramid-like megastructures after 1909. From 1919, Sauvage ran his office alone, which was continued after he died in 1932 by his collaborator and brother-in-law Louis-Marie Charpentier (1897-1974). Sauvage was a teacher at the École des arts décoratifs from 1929 and École des Beaux-Arts from 1931. In 1924, he became a Knight of the Legion of Honor.

Unnoticed for many decades, Sauvage was not discovered until the late 20th century as one of the pioneers of French modernism. Devoted to Art Nouveau in his early years, he followed the concept of the total work of art and was primarily concerned with technical-constructive innovations. He experimented early on with a serial construction method using prefabrication and tested straw building panels and fiber cement. He was one of the first architects to abandon Art Nouveau and practice a new aesthetic, later called Art Deco.

Through Art Deco, he arrived at a clear rationalist expression in reinforced concrete. With the Decré department store in Nantes (1931, destroyed, rebuilt 1949), Sauvage created an elegant modern building with glass rain screen walls, freed from the influences of Art Deco, and celebrated by the architects of the New Objectivity.


Games Sport (Discipline) / Event NOC / Team Phase Unit Role As
1924 Summer Olympics Art Competitions FRA Henri Sauvage
Architecture, Open (Olympic) Final Standings Judge