Jules-Félix Coutan (1848-1939) had a highly successful career as a sculptor and designer, which began with his winning Prix de Rome in 1872 whilst studying under Pierre-Jules Cavelier (1814-1894) at the Paris Fine Arts School. He spent then the next four years at the France Academy in Rome and knew his brilliant debut at the Salon of 1876 awarding him the first class medal. His significant contribution to the decoration of the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition, with his Fountain of Progress, earned Coutan a gold medal and the Grand Prix d’Honneur at the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition for his monumental portico for the Sèvres manufacture pavillon. He went on to contribute to the sculptural decoration of many of Paris’ most important buildings, such as the Main City Hall, the National Library and the Courthouse. His international portfolio included a pediment in New York’s Grand Central Station and a monument to Carlos Pelligrini in Buenos Aires. He was director of design at the Sèvres Porcelain factory in the 1890s, before replacing Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900) at the Paris Fine Arts Academy in 1900. His vision was both classical and naturalistic in style and his career was highlighted by numerous accolades.