French Sculpture Census

photo credit : The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
artist © : public domain

Lyon, Rhône 1855 - Paris 1894

Autoportrait en Midas, ou Le Faune endormi
Self-Portrait as Midas, also called The Sleeping Faun

patinated plaster

13 9/16 x 13 3/8 x 9 1/4

Acc. No. : 98.SE.8
Credit Line : The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California, The J. Paul Getty Museum


  • Paris, Galerie Patrice Bellanger


  • Museum's website, accessed 22 March 2012 and August 6, 2018


  • 2011-2012 Los Angeles
    Images of the Artist, Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, November 15, 2011-February 12, 2012


Museum's website, accessed August 6, 2018:
The unusual feature of donkey's ears provides the clue to the identity of this disembodied head of an older man, with closed eyes and tilted to the side. He represents the mythological King Midas, a figure of legendary foolishness best known for a magical touch that turned all objects to gold. According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, Apollo punished Midas by giving him the ears of a donkey after he chose Pan rather than Apollo in a musical contest.
Jean-Joseph Carriès left the head oddly truncated, resting not on a torso nor even on a neck but rather on a mass of roughly handled plaster. This amorphous truncation expresses the inner spirit divorced from bodily form. As a self-portrait, the image forms an allegory of Carriès's life. Perceiving himself as foolish, bestial, and uncultured, he presented a thoroughly modern, powerfully intimate, yet ultimately debased representation.
Carriès formed this head, one of his most celebrated works, with plaster in a many-pieced mold. He then shellacked it to give it a patina resembling metal. He also made other versions in plaster, wax, clay, and bronze.