Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (French, 1824–1887)
Tormented Innocence, ca. 1871
Painted terra-cotta, 25 x 8 1/2 x 7 in.
Signed on base: A. Carrier Belleuse
A prolific artist, Carrier-Belleuse enjoyed a career in both the fine and decorative arts, creating works ranging from large public monuments and architectural ornaments to intimate statuettes, busts, clocks, and furniture. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts for a short time before moving to the Petite École, a school that taught drawing to artisans seeking employment in the decorative arts, and later had many opportunities to apply his skills in Baron Haussmann’s newly rebuilt Paris of the 1850s and 60s. Carrier-Belleuse, contributed major decorative works to the Louvre, the Hôtel de Ville, the Théâtre-Français, and the new Opera, for which he designed the striking torchers flanking the grand staircase. But, as Salmson noted, he also developed a taste for sculpture for itself alone” and began to exhibit sculptures at the Salon, one of which, a sensuous Bacchante, was purchased by Emperor Napoleon III in 1863. His taste for the elegance and animation of Rococo sculpture is evident in this lighthearted allegorical statuette of cupids cavorting around a skimpily clad young maiden. Like other sculptors of the time, Carrier-Belleuse frequently produced many versions of the same work in different media. Tormented Innocence exists today in a number of versions in different materials and sizes, including a life-size terra-cotta example at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.