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

La Juivre d'Alger (The Jewish Woman of Algiers)

Onyx-marble, bronze, 90 cm (overall)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This bust (Algerian onyx-marble, bronze, gilt bronze, amethyst and enamel, white marble socle, red and white marble pedestal) is one of Cordier's most lavish multimedia busts of ethnic people which found favour with collectors at the highest social level, for example, Napoléon III and Queen Victoria, who were no doubt drawn to them because of their own colonial interests. For such costly commissions he would create a model that could be varied with different stones and paints.

For the Jewish Woman of Algiers, a predominantly white onyx-marble is matched with a white enamel fired into the bronze floral pattern of the blouse. Brightly coloured enamels make stripes in the turban and in the brooches that pin it to the hair. Inset amethyst eyes gleam against the smooth surface of the woman's skin. For a different version (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Troyes), Cordier used red enamel for the blouse, which he matched by painting part of the marble cloak red and gold.

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