Preferring the street to the Academy, Jean-Joseph Marie Carriès drew inspiration from the “Court of Miracles” or slum neighbourhood that was home to his first ramshackle studio, as well as from literature – the Romanticism of Victor Hugo’s Gothic beggars and the Naturalism of Émile Zola’s characters, shut out of the modern world. Influenced by the Symbolists, Carriès was haunted by the image of the severed head, evocative of the sacrifice of martyrs such as Saint John the Baptist. The figures of the acrobat, the jester, the Harlequin, the Pierrot and the clown generate a double meaning in keeping with a mood of doleful irony. After his discovery of Japanese stoneware at the Exposition universelle of 1878, Carriès developed a passion for the “virile porcelain,” which was as hard as stone. This pioneer represented a symbiosis of artist and artisan, the ideal of the new modernity.