Jewess from Algiers, 1862

Charles-Henri Cordier (1827-1904)

  • Various materials, 93 x 63 x 31 cm
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

This bust made of various materials in different colours is an unusual piece. It is a style of sculpture that does not accord with the classical belief that a three-dimensional work should be made entirely of white marble or dark bronze. When Cordier produced his Jewess from Algiers around 1862 there was already a heated discussion in progress regarding this question. Since it had become known that the ancient Greeks had painted their sculptures and temples in bright colours, increasing numbers of sculptors had ventured to create polychrome (multicoloured) works.

Cordier’s Jewess forms a pair with Arab sheik. A number of versions of these figures are known: Cordier made various replicas of these busts in order to meet the great demand for his sculpture in well-to-do French circles.

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