• Paris, 1872
  • Marble
  • Inv. 563
  • Sculpture

L’Amour à la Folie

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux

Like Rodin, Carpeaux often made use of fragments of his larger sculptures, granting them an independent existence. This was the case with Amour à la Folie, a composition taken from The Dance (unveiled in 1869), a decorative group executed by the sculptor at the invitation of his friend, the architect Charles Garnier, to decorate the facade of the Paris Opera House. L’Amour à la Folie is the child who reclines at the feet of the Genius of Dance, with his right hand resting on a quiver and the left raised, playfully shaking a puppet to encourage festivities.

When he sculpted l’Amour à la Folie as an independent piece, Carpeaux maintained the Cupid’s original pose by bringing him out from his previous position behind the Genius’s feet, where he was partially obscured by the feet of the bacchantes. By taking away his status as an attribute of the Genius of the Dance, Carpeaux stripped the work of its initial meaning. The L’Amour à la Folie became a traditional sculpture, in the spirit of eighteenth-century putti, continuing the tradition of the children sculpted by Pigalle.

It was Carpeaux’s brother, Emile, in charge for the commercial side of the studio, who convinced him to produce separate editions of various fragments of his larger groups, taking advantage of the popularity that they had achieved in order to recuperate the costs incurred, which, in the case of The Dance, had been three times greater than the amount received for the commission.


Boutreux Collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Duveen, Paris, 12 June 1922.

H. 82 cm; W. 70 cm; D. 41 cm

Calais 1982

De Carpeaux à Matisse. La Sculpture Française de 1850 à 1914 dans les musées et les collections publiques du Nord de la France, (exhibition catalogue). Lille : Musée des beaux-arts de Calais, 1982.

Wagner 1986

Anne Middleton Wagner – Jean-Baptiste Carpeux : Sculptor of the Second Empire. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1986.

Jeancolas 1987

Claude Jeancolas – Carpeaux, Sculpteur et Peintre. Lausanne : Edita, 1987.

Figueiredo 1992

Maria Rosa Figueiredo – A Escultura Francesa. Catálogo de Escultura Europeia. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 1992, vol. I, p. 160-63.

Poletti and Richarme 2003

Michel Poletti and Alain Richarme – Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux Sculpteur. Catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre édité. Angers : Les Editions de l’Amateur, 2003.