Carriès grew up in an orphanage after the age of six. He began his artistic education creating religious images in a sculptor's studio at thirteen. In 1874 he joined the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris as a probationary pupil, but his irregular attendance resulted in failing the admission tests. Nevertheless, he made his Salon debut the following year. His sculpture was well received; his allegorical heads depicting particular emotions and states of mind, named "the hopeless," "the disinherited," and "the strays" by a contemporary poet, especially earned praise from the art critics. Working mostly in bronze, he also created historical representations, portraits of contemporaries, and heads of babies. In 1889 Carriès retreated to Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye in the Loire Valley to devote himself to his life-long interest, ceramics. Setting up his own factory, he was largely inspired by traditional Japanese ceramics from the XVIIIth and XIXth century, which he re-interpreted with use of pink, gold or silver enameled glazes, creating some of the most beautiful pieces of French ceramics.