The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Jean Carriès, 1855-1894

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1855.02.15
Place of Birth: Lyon
Date of Death: 1894.07.01
Place of Death: Paris


Jean-Joseph-Marie Carriès was a sculptor and potter who signed his works Joseph Carriès until 1890–91 and subsequently Jean Carriès.


In 1868 Carriès entered the studio of Vermare, a sculptor of religious themes, and in 1874 he became a probationer at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Augustin-Alexandre Dumont. However, he failed to gain full admission. He made his début at the Salon of 1875. It was the Salon of 1881 that made his name, as well as a private exhibition organized by the Cercle des Arts Libéraux in 1882. His bronze portrait busts of the 1880s, cast by the lost-wax method, include portraits of Frans Hals, Diego Velázquez, Gustave Courbet, Jules Breton and Léon Gambetta, as well as a number of ideal busts.

From 1888 Carriès began to experiment with ceramics, influenced by Japanese decorative artefacts. He produced brutally expressive and surreal 'grotesque' ceramics that shocked critics. In 1889 he was commissioned by Winaretta Singer, Princesse de Scey-Montbéliard, to design a monumental Symbolist doorway (destroyed) for the room in which she kept the manuscript of Wagner's Parsifal. However, Carriès died before it was completed (plaster maquette, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris).

In the late 1880s Carriès moved in similar artistic circles in Paris to Whistler, and the two men became friendly. In a letter dating from 1888 Whistler wrote to Mallarmé inviting him and Carriès to lunch at the Hotel du Tibre on the rue du Helder (#03781). In May 1889 John Singer Sargent wrote to Whistler to inform him that Carriès had left Whistler a piece of his grès porcelain as a token of his admiration (#05383).


Alexandre, A., Jean Carriès, imagier et potier: Etude d'une oeuvre et d'une vie, Paris, 1895; Thiébaut, P., 'A propos d'un groupe céramique de Jean Carriès: Le Grenouillard', Revue du Louvre et des musees de France, vol. 2, 1982, pp. 121-28; Thiebaut, Philippe, 'Jean Carriès', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 28 August 2002).