Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse began his training as a goldsmith's apprentice. In 1840 Pierre-Jean David d'Angers sponsored him for the École des Beaux-Arts. He stayed only briefly, moving to the Petite École to study decorative arts instead. Between 1850 and 1855, Carrier-Belleuse worked in England, designing ceramics and metalwork models for companies like Wedgwood. From 1857 he exhibited large-scale sculptures at the Salon, where he garnered medals and commissions from important patrons. Emperor Napoléon III employed him in public projects during the massive rebuilding of Paris from 1851 to 1870.Carrier-Belleuse had a sharp sense of how to combine historical elements with new technologies and the process of mass production. In his workshop, students like Auguste Rodin learned the value of series, editions, and variations made alongside unique, monumental Salon submissions.
His work encompassed all manner of sculptural subjects and materials, and his naturalism incorporated a breadth of styles: unembellished Realism, neo-Baroque exuberance, and Rococo elegance. He consistently opposed, however, the static poses and idealizing tendencies of Neoclassicism. His torchères for the Paris Opéra were typical: he combined figures inspired by sixteenth-century sculptors with electrotyping, a new process for replicating three-dimensional objects. Beginning in 1876 Carrier-Belleuse revitalized the Sèvres porcelain manufactory as its artistic director.