Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (1824-1887)

Born in 1824 in Aisne, Albert Carrier-Belleuse trained in workshops in the region, learning to be a carver and a goldsmith. Recommended by David d'Angers, he entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1840. He was commissioned by various goldsmiths, such as Fannière Frères, to create objects in gold, and in 1848, he received his first public commission, Rachel chantant la Marseillaise (Rachel Singing the Marseillaise).[1] From 1851 to 1855, he lived in England, where he served as the director of the school of modeling and drawing at the Minton porcelain company. During this period, he received numerous commissions for small statuettes from both English and French bronze foundries. When he returned to Paris, he opened a studio in the rue de la Tour d'Auvergne, where he made busts, usually in terra-cotta. "All high society—artistic, literary, political, and social—of the Second Empire and the Third Republic came to pose in the studio in the rue de la Tour d'Auvergne."[2] For instance, he sculpted the bust of the actress Marguerite Bellanger, which is now in the Musée Carnavalet (Inv. S3302).[3]

In addition to his work in terra-cotta, from 1857 on, Carrier-Belleuse regularly sent large sculptures in marble to the annual Salon, which were received very warmly by the Parisian society of the Second Empire. Such was the case for La Bacchante (The Bacchante),[4] which was shown at the 1863 Salon and then immediately bought by the Emperor, making Carrier-Belleuse's name well-known to all. Beginning in 1864, he taught Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900), Jules Desbois (1851-1935), Jules Dalou (1838-1902), and Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).

Albert Carrier-Belleuse was also sought out by the state for monumental works. Among his projects for the year 1873 was a commission from Charles Garnier for the Torchères (The Torch Bearers) for the main staircase of the Opéra Garnier. The plaster models are held in the collections of the Musée d'Orsay (Inv. DO 1979 88).[5] He was also commissioned to do a number of statues of illustrious men, such as Maréchal André Masséna for the city of Nice (1869), Michel le Brave for Bucharest (1874), and Alexandre Dumas for Villers-Cotterêts (1885).

At the end of his career, he held the post of director of the Sèvres porcelain factory (1876); he died in that city at the age of 62. Carrier-Belleuse's work is well represented in all the public collections in France as well as many of those abroad, particularly in museums in the United States.