For many years he had a studio in Rome, but was equally at home in the Salons of Paris and the exhibitions at the Royal Academy in London.
He worked not only for the crowned heads of Europe, but also portrayed the stars of his day, most prominent among them the actress Sarah Bernhardt.
Many of his works were inspired by Greek and Roman mythology and among his most famous pieces was Vénus Astarté, a marble figure of the goddess wringing water from her long hair to fertilise the earth, which he created in 1900. He found the inspiration for this figure in a poem by Alfred de Muset, published in the periodical La Semaine des Familles.
This was not, however, d’Épinay’s first depiction of the goddess. At Scheublein’s (27% buyer’s premium) Munich sale on September 23, a 3ft 2in (97cm) high marble figure of ‘Venus Undressing’ was in the catalogue.
It was signed and dated 1872 and had last been on the market in 1995, when it was bought by the consignor at Christie’s in London. The guide in Munich was €6000 but the offer that sealed the deal was €19,000 (£16,520) and came from an international phone bidder.