Jean Carriès (1855–1894) was a French sculptor and ceramicist. He was born in Lyon. Jean-Joseph Carriès expressed his subjects through unconventional approaches that deviated from mainstream academic conventions. He infused his artwork with deep emotions and a unique inner life that captivated the viewer. Perhaps his difficult early family life and ongoing self-doubt contributed to his one-of-a-kind expression of mood.
Although his parents had humble occupations, his father was a. cobbler, and his mother a domestic worker, he was determined to make something of himself. With minimal education, he began working at the age of twelve in manual labour, then later became an apprentice to a builder. While observing plasterers at work on stuccoed ceilings, he cultivated the desire to be an artist himself. This became the purpose of his life. At the age of twenty, he joined the army, serving for five years to support himself. It was during this time that his exceptional talent was recognised, and he was allowed to become a sculptor, thanks to the generosity of his colonel.
Carries executed his most important sculptures in 1878–80 and 1888. He was influenced by the stoneware at the Japanese section of the 1878 Paris ‘Exposition Universelle’.
He moved to Saint-Amand-en- Puisaye, Nièvre, a small potters’ village, to learn stoneware techniques. He showed his pottery for the first time in his Paris studio in 1889. As a result, the Princess of Scey-Monbéliard commissioned a monumental doorway in glazed stoneware. With plans by Grasset, the project was a financial disaster for Carries.
His wares included Chinese and Japanese forms, pinched pots without handles, vases decorated with sculpture, and large pieces. He used glazes ranging from wood ash to copper bases. His sculpture ceramics were in the form of masks, monsters, and putti.
Jean Carriès Technique
One of his preferred materials was wax, and he had the unique skill of creating a model using either clay or plaster and then casting it in bronze using the “à cire perdue” technique. This process involves creating a wax model that is destroyed during the casting process, allowing only one cast to be made from the mould.
One of the materials used by Carriès was terracotta. For him, it was simply a matter of heating the clay forms he created daily. In 1888, he discovered some clay beds that were perfect for his pottery work. This was an opportunity for him to further develop his favourite art form.
He was deeply drawn to the unique shapes and vivid glazes of Japanese cups, bowls, and jars. Despite his passion for sculpture, he became increasingly enamoured with the art of pottery. Upon discovering that he could manipulate clay beds to create his pieces, he eagerly embraced this new artistic expression.
His work was shown at the 1892 Salon of the Société des Artistes Français.
Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing. https://amzn.to/3ElmSlL
The Field of Art – Jean Carriès About. (1896). Scribner’s Magazine, 19, 29–30. https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/Scribner_s_Magazine/rt6ifpNpd-UC?hl=en&gbpv=0
Jean-Joseph Carriès. (2022, May 15). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Joseph_Carri%C3%A8s