Companion Reception Table

Companion Reception Table

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Title: Companion reception board.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1843

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 130 - Width 63

Technique and other indications: Color lithograph

Storage location: Gadagne Museum website

Contact copyright: © Musée Gadagne - Lyon (Justin Godard collection)

Picture reference: (9) 54*459

Companion reception board.

© Musée Gadagne - Lyon (Justin Godard collection)

Publication date: August 2005


Companion Reception Table


Historical context

A legendary tradition links the companionship to the construction of the Temple of Jerusalem by King Solomon, Master Jacques and Soubise. While preserving its ritual secrets, it is then revealed thanks to the publications of a few companions, in particular the carpenter Agricol Perdiguier, to the support of romantics like Hugo, Lamartine and especially George Sand, to the images spread by lithography.

Image Analysis

Of a common type, personalized by handwritten inscriptions, this lithograph represents the new Lyon carpenter companion in front of Place Bellecour, with a dog holding his gourd, a symbol of travel on the Tour. The dress emphasizes his dignity. He received his nickname, his ribbons in the colors of his "duty" and his cane, both a memory of the ring of Maître Jacques, a traditional sign of authority, support on the road and a weapon in combat. Arranged in overlapping symmetrical zones, the surrounding decor is rich. He recalls the formative role of mentoring:
- Professional training with the masterpieces (framework, stairs) and the tools in the spotlight (plumb line and compass for spatial design, the "line"; adze, ax, saw, gouge , sharp bisaiguous at both ends for use.
- Moral formation, by the exaltation in verse of work, honor and virtue.
- Cultural training, remarkable among autodidacts, expressed by many symbols in the antique: Love, Fame, Architecture with the compass, Truth in the mirror, Wisdom in Minerva, Justice with the sword and the scales, the entrance to the Temple of Jerusalem evoked by two columns.

The decor reveals particular habits such as the taste for secrecy, cultivated by tradition, to escape police surveillance, perhaps also for those who could only decipher the first letters of formulas learned by heart: U.V.G.T. (Union, Value or Virtue, Genius, Work); U.P.F.S. (Union, Prudence, Frankness, Wisdom); G. (Glory), L. (Praise); J.M.J. (Jesus, Mary, Joseph). At the end of the 19th century, under the influence of Freemasonry, three dots sometimes punctuate each letter.
It also shows the ritual gestures performed in broad daylight: at the bottom left a driving field, where the first companion carries the cane and the bundle of the one who leaves and must pretend to hold him back; on the right, the "guilbrette", a sign of recognition where we drink together, arms and canes crossed.
The religious aspect is dealt with in two areas where Christian tradition and legendary stories mingle: above the patron saint, Saint Joseph in his workshop, and the founding fathers - Solomon on the Temple site in the central lantern; on the right Maître Jacques (or Soubise?); on the left, the discovery of the body of Hiram, another founder whose legend spread in the 19th century with Freemasonry. Murdered by disgruntled workers, he is found thanks to his dog and the acacia that grows on his grave. Below, the site of Sainte-Baume, the hill of Saint-Pilon and the Saint-Maximin church (left), Marie-Madeleine in her cave (right), an important place of pilgrimage that links the memory of the Madeleine and the legend of Maître Jacques. After the completion of the Temple, Maître Jacques and Soubise would have separated, Soubise disembarking in Bordeaux, Maître Jacques in Marseille. Withdrawn to Sainte-Baume, he would have been assassinated by disciples of Soubise, who would have regretted him, it is said. Intended to commemorate a major event in the life of a companion, this popular image is a sum of companion culture. But it’s an idyllic picture.


Bringing together young men, used to using their strength and proud of their traditions, the companionship is a place of violence: arbitrariness of the elders, brutal trials inflicted during the reception. Murderous battles frequently opposed the “Bons Drilles Compagnons Passants du Devoir”, or “Devoirants” (children of Master Jacques and Soubise), and the “Gavots” or “Etrangers du Devoir de Liberté”, a group born of a split in 1804 (children of Solomon). In the name of the ideas of the Revolution and of the universal brotherhood dreamed of by romanticism, some, like Perdiguier, fight against obscurantism and for union, without much result.
Originally in the building trades, the companionship has reluctantly welcomed other professions. In Lyon, the "Ferrandiniers" (from the name of a fabric, the ferrandine), formed in 1832 among the weaving workers, were not recognized by the "Devoir des Enfants de Maître Jacques" until 1841.
At the end of the 19th century, with the laws on the right to strike and to organize (1864) and on freedom of association (1884), the working class had other means of defending itself. Artisanal and elitist, little concerned with political action, companionship is not adapted to the new conditions created by the industrial revolution. With the railway and vocational training, it loses the specificity of the Tour de France. Advances in rationalism have undermined legends. But there remains the quality of his professional training, the curiosity for mystery and, along with an interest in folk art, the charm of masterpieces and images.

  • workers
  • unionism
  • Sand (George)


Agricol PERDIGUIER The Book of Companionship 1st edition 1839, reprint Marseille, Jeanne Laffitte, 1985 Agricol PERDIGUIER Memories of a Companion 1st edition 1855, reprint Paris, La Découverte, 2002.Emile COORNAERT The Compagnonnages in France Paris, Editions Ouvrières, 1976. Jean-Pierre BAYARD Companionship in France Paris, Payot, 1977, reprint 1997 Jean-Pierre BAYARD The Spirit of Companionship Saint-Jean-de-Braye, Dangles, 1994 François ICHER Companionship Paris, J. Grancher, 1989.Encyclopedia of companionship Paris, Editions du Rocher, 2000.Paris and the Companions of the Tour de France exhibition catalogc, (December 21, 1951 - April 28, 1952), Paris, Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions, 1951.Companionship, path to excellence catalog of the exhibition, November 16, 1995 - May 6, 1996, Paris, Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions, 1995.

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Hélène DELPECH, "Journeyman reception board"

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