Born into a modest family in Lyon in 1855, Jean-Joseph Carriès was an unusual sculptor, highly admired in the late 19th century, who died in Paris in 1894. He attracted notice at the 1881 Salon with "The Disinherited", subtly patinated busts mingling naturalism and symbolism.
Carriès was a stickler for quality, and in October 1883 met Pierre Bingen (1842-1900), a bronze-founder who had specialised in lost wax casting and enjoyed a growing reputation for the excellence of his bronzes. Lost wax casting, a technique glorified by the prestige of the Renaissance, faithfully reproduced the modelling of the plaster. The two men are described as working together in "a frenzy to do the job well" and their decisive collaboration enabled the sculptor to design the patina of his bronzes himself.
The Faun, which Carriès also made in stoneware in various colours and in patinated plaster, is one of the most evocative works of this introspective vein in which the hybridisation of man and beast takes on dreamy, melancholic overtones.