CORDIER, Charles-Henri-Joseph
(b. 1827, Cambrai, d. 1905, Algiers)

La Capresse des Colonies

Bronze, height 96 cm (overall)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This bust La Capresse des Colonies (The Goat Tender of the Colonies, made from Algerian onyx-marble, bronze and gilt bronze, and enamel on white marble socle) revels in the period taste for polychromy in sculpture, an international phenomenon sparked by artistic debates about the painting of ancient statuary and inspired by ancient Roman and Renaissance sculpture composed of variously coloured marbles. On a trip to Algeria in 1856 Cordier discovered onyx deposits in recently reopened ancient quarries and began to use the stone in busts such as these. He ingeniously fitted enamelled bronze heads into the vibrantly patterned stone, creating exciting though costly representations of Africans that appealed to the highest levels of European society.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.