The Algerian, c. 1850-1857

Charles Henri Joseph Cordier excelled in the precise rendering of facial features and embellishments (note the scarification on his cheeks) as well as specific dress of different ethnic groups. His portraits show a precision and honesty which was virtually unknown before, without any elements of stereotyping and caricature. In a gigantic task that anticipates Malvina Hoffman's undertaking to portray the diversity of mankind for the Field Museum in Chicago (1930-1935), Cordier was employed by the Natural History Museum in Paris to portray representatives of the world's most diverse cultures from 1851-1866. His particular interest was for the peoples he encountered during his travels in North Africa. Cordier's use of onyx marble - which was quarried only in Algeria - for the ethnic dress of the Algerian demonstrates that even in his choice of materials he sought to pay homage to the specific culture of his sitters.

Details
Title
The Algerian
Artist Life
1827-1905
Role
Sculptor
Accession Number
76.3
Curator Approved

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