Jean Després is born in 1889 in Souvigny in France. In 1903, he begins an apprenticeship as a silversmith in a workshop located in the Marais in Paris; at the same time, he takes drawing and painting lessons. He spends his free time in Montmartre at the “Cité d’artistes Bateau-Lavoir” where he meets and befriends the cubist group including, among others, Pablo Picasso, Amadeao Modigliani and Georges Braque.

World War I begins, and Jean Després joins the military aviation where he is assigned as a mechanic; very quickly, he is spotted and hired as a designer in a fighter squadron; this experience has an impact on his future creations in which we find some mechanical elements as wheels or chains.

In 1920, the artist takes over the family store located in Avallon in Bourgogne and installs his silversmith and jewellery workshop in the back of the store. From 1928 on, he exhibits his works at the “Salon des artistes Décorateurs” as well as the “Salon d’Automne” and the “Salon des Tuileries”; he also participates in numerous exhibitions abroad.

Jean Després exploits themes from the avant-garde of the 1920s, such as cubism and modernism; his artwork is very popular and expresses the aesthetics of that time. The main materials used in his works are silver, silvered metal or hammered pewter; he favours massive shapes and rejects the use of precious stones in his jewellery. During World War II, the trade of precious metal is suspended but Jean Després continues his activity by employing poor metals.

In 1940 he is named president of the Silversmiths’ Union. In 1943 he moves to Paris where he opens a shop; nevertheless he keeps his workshop in Avallon.

In addition to the creation of jewellery and silverware, Jean Després designs sports trophies and religious artefacts. His pieces are entirely handmade and therefore unique; they often have hammered surfaces allowing multiple reflections.

His well-known customers are Ferdinand Léger and Joséphine Baker. Jean Després continues to work until his death in 1980.