Whilst the contemporary vogue for Orientalism helped establish Cordier, his work stood out from the overwhelmingly decorative representations of the genre as an almost scientific study of physiognomy and costume. Cordier’s lengthy trips abroad and studies from life gave his works an authenticity and authority which few could rival. His originality was also felt in his use of colour and mixed materials. Cordier’s technical mastery of casting, carving, enamelling and patinating was extraordinary. The finished effect was one of great opulence and luxury. His work was avidly collected by wealthy art lovers across Europe, including Napoleon III and Queen Victoria.
The Juive d’Alger was first exhibited in London at the International Exhibition in 1862 and at the Paris Salon the following year. The present bust is recorded by Jeannine Durand-Révillon and Laure de Margerie in their Catalogue Raisonné written for the 2004 Cordier Exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Another version of the bust is held by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and featured on the cover of their important 1997 exhibition Colour in Sculpture.
S. Lami, Dictionnaire des Sculpteurs de l’École Francaise, Paris, 1914, vol. 1, p. 420; J. Durand-Revillon, ‘Un promoteur de la sculpture polychrome sous le Second Empire, C.-H.-J. Cordier (1827-1905) in Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de l’Art française, Paris, 1982, pp. 181-198; A. Blühm ed., The Colour of Sculpture, 1840-1910, exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 1997, pp. 170-4
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