Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, whose real last name was Carrier de Belleuse, was born in Sèvres, France in 1824. He began his apprenticeship at the age of thirteen, in the studio of the chiseler Bauchery, and went on to work under the goldsmith Fauconnier.
In 1840, David d’Angers helped Carrier-Belleuse enter the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. However, the official curriculum did not really suit him. More attracted to the decorative arts, the young artist chose to finish his studies at the Petite Ecole. Afterwards, he opened his own studio as a sculptor-ornamentalist in Paris.
Carrier-Belleuse began to expose at the Salon in 1857. He received a bronze medal in 1861 for his group Salve Regina, and an honourable mention in 1863 for a sculpture of a follower of Bacchus. He tasted true success in 1867, when his piece titled La Messie won the top prize, and continued to expose at the Salon until the end of his life.
In 1851, Carrier-Belleuse took on a contract with the English porcelain manufacturer Minton China Work, in Staffordshire, where he distingued himself by creating statuettes of historical figures. He settled briefly in Belgium in 1871, returning to Paris in 1879 after being named the artistic director at the Sèvres porcelain company. He helped breathe new life into the biscuit pottery for which his sculptures served as models.
He worked on many Parisian buildings, including Saint-Augustin Church, the Tuileries, the Louvre, the Hôtel de Ville and the Opera. He also sculpted the graceful caryatids on the façade of the Théâtre de la Renaissance and the pediment on the Banque de France building.
The technique of Carrier-Beleuse was at once hardy and delicate; the exquisite sentiment manifest in his figures has sometimes been compared to the work of Clodion.
He died in Sèvres on June 3, 1887.
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Paris, Musée Delacroix
Versailles, Château and Trianon
Roubaix, La Piscine Musée des Arts et de l’Industrie
Dijon, Musée Magnien
36 000 €