The firm of Dehais & Laforest (later Renou) was formed in around 1847 at 47 rue Aumaire, specialising in toys and novelties. In 1871 the firm moved to 5 rue de Montmorency, where director Verger was succeeded by Louis Renou in 1871. Renou took the firm in a new direction and used his experience in toy making to create a new type of automaton aimed at the popular market. Automata by Renou are generally smaller and more toy-like than the work of his contemporaries Vichy, Lambert and Roullet & Decamps.
While their inspiration was often in these larger pieces, Renou's automata often displayed a whimsical sense of humour and incorporated a joke element: a grinning devil appears from a theatrephone to surprise a listener, or a maid is frightened when the eyes of a portrait she is dusting begin to move. Louis Renou retired in 1922, leaving the business to his son Ludovic, who modernised the business as his father had done, turning his attention away from automata.