• Portrait of a Moor - Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Portrait of a Moor - Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Portrait of a Moor - Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Portrait of a Moor - Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Portrait of a Moor - Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Portrait of a Moor - Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Portrait of a Moor - Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Portrait of a Moor - Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Portrait of a Moor - Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
Click image to enlarge

Portrait of a Moor

Arthur Strasser

(Austrian, 1854-1927)

Signed A. Strasser
Inscribed 1880 and Paris
Terracotta with a dark brown patination
Height: 21 5/8'' (55 cm)

Conceived and modelled circa 1880

Arthur Strasser (1854-1927) was an Austrian sculptor whose career developed in his home country, as well as France and Egypt. He was awarded the Austrian Emperor Prize for his artistic merits in 1893, and the State’s Golden Medal in 1896. His art can be admired in important public locations in Vienna, and is part of the Belvedere Museum collection.

At the age of 17, Strasser was inducted into the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and continued his studies in Paris between 1881 and 1883 upon receiving a travelling scholarship, associating himself with the French Naturalist movement. In 1892, the artist organised a trip to Cairo together with his friend, the painter Charles Wilda. This trip marked another fundamental moment in his career, which is generally associated with the development of Orientalism in late nineteenth-century Europe.

The present sculpture, Portrait of a Moor, is a unique, hand-modelled work by the artist. The sculpture’s nervous surface and the modelling underneath the bust testify to Strasser’s direct manipulation of the clay. Since Portrait of a Moor was cast in bronze multiple times during the artist’s lifetime, it is likely that the present terracotta was the original example from which the mould for the bronze edition was taken.

The inscriptions ‘1880’ and ‘Paris’ on the present bust contrast the publicly-know biographical information above, suggesting that the artist was already at work in France in 1880. Likewise, the bust’s subject demonstrates that the representation of foreign races concerned Strasser way before his 1892 trip to Egypt.

Perhaps Strasser, fascinated by the popular ethnographic models created by Charles Cordier (1827-1905), conceived the present Portrait of a Moor one year before starting his classes in Paris. In this light, the bold signature on the front of the figure’s torso testifies to the young artist’s desire for recognition in the undisputed artistic capital of Europe.

Strasser, Bust of a Nubian, 1892, Belvedere, Vienna

Similar inscriptions appear on another unique terracotta by the artist, the Bust of a Nubian, currently part of the Belvedere Museum collection. The piece was sculpted by the artist during his trip to Egypt, and is inscribed ‘1892’ and ‘Cairo.’ Just like in the present case, such inscriptions likely signal the artist’s awareness with regards to the importance of his travels for the development of his career.

As well as for its biographical and art-historical importance, the piece must also be admired for its beauty. The male figure’s look is intense and delicate at the same time. Yet, a slight sneer is at the same time suggested by the figure’s raising of his upper lip. As the likeness of the figure is imbued with the sitter’s character, the work was clearly the result of Strasser’s strenuous observation of his model. From a technical point of view, the depth of such a sculptural rendition is given by the varying colours of the patination and by the expert modelling of the clay.

The piece’s biographical relevance, its unique status in Strasser’s oeuvre and its undisputable visual qualities equally contribute to its rarity, while also testifying to the valour of an artist that has long been denied his place in the canon of nineteenth-century European sculpture.

Works by Arthur Strasser

Browse By Artist

Gustinus Ambrosi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Ambrosi, Gustinus

(Austrian, 1893-1975)

Michael Ayrton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Ayrton, Michael

(British, 1921-1975)

Gilbert Bayes, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Bayes, Gilbert

(British, 1872-1953)

Pietro Calvi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Calvi, Pietro

(Italian, 1833-1884)

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Carpeaux, Jean-Baptiste

(French, 1827-1875)

 Carrier-Belleuse & Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Carrier-Belleuse & Rodin

(French, 1824-1887 and 1840-1917)

Lynn Chadwick, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Chadwick, Lynn

(British, 1914-2003)

Geoffrey Clarke, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Clarke, Geoffrey

(British, 1924-2014)

Jean-Baptiste Clesinger, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Clesinger, Jean-Baptiste

(French, 1814-1883)

Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Cordier, Charles Henri

(French, 1827-1905)

Aimé-Jules Dalou, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Dalou, Aimé-Jules

(French, 1838-1902)

Francis Derwent Wood, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Derwent Wood, Francis

(British, 1871-1926)

Alfred Drury, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Drury, Alfred

(English, 1856-1944)

Sir Jacob Epstein, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Epstein, Sir Jacob

(British, 1880-1959)

Pierre Félix Fix-Masseau, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Fix-Masseau, Pierre Félix

(French, 1869-1937)

Sir George Frampton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Frampton, Sir George

(English, 1860-1926)

Louis Julien (Jules) Franceschi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Franceschi, Louis Julien (Jules)

(French , 1825-1893)

 George Frederick Watts & Thomas Wren, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

George Frederick Watts & Thomas Wren

(British )

Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Gilbert, Sir Alfred

(British, 1854-1934)

Sir William Goscombe John, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Goscombe John, Sir William

(British, 1860-1952)

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Gérôme, Jean-Léon

(French, 1824-1904)

Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Halnon, Frederick James

(British, 1881-1958)

Herbert Hampton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Hampton, Herbert

(British, 1862-1929)

Adrian Jones, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Jones, Adrian

(English, 1846-1938)

Fritz Klimsch, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Klimsch, Fritz

(German, 1870-1960)

Gerald Laing, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Laing, Gerald

(UK, 1936-2011)

Frederic Lord  Leighton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Leighton, Frederic Lord

(English, 1830-1896)

Andrea Lucchesi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Lucchesi, Andrea

(Italian, 1860-1924)

Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Mackennal, Sir Edgar Bertram

(Australian, 1863-1931)

Robert Tait McKenzie, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

McKenzie, Robert Tait

(Canadian, 1867-1938)

Ivan Mestrovic, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Mestrovic, Ivan

(Croatian, 1883-1962)

George Minne, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Minne, George

(Belgian, 1866-1941)

Henry Moore, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Moore, Henry

(English, 1898-1986)

Edward Onslow-Ford, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Onslow-Ford, Edward

(English, 1852-1901)

Eduardo Paolozzi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Paolozzi, Eduardo

(British, 1924-2005)

Pablo Picasso, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Picasso, Pablo

(Spanish, 1881-1973)

Enzo Plazzotta, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Plazzotta, Enzo

(Italian, 1921-1981)

Hiram Powers, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Powers, Hiram

(American, 1805-1873)

Jean-Jacques Pradier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Pradier, Jean-Jacques

(Swiss, 1790-1852)

Sir William Reid Dick, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Reid Dick, Sir William

(English, 1879-1961)

Charles Ricketts, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Ricketts, Charles

(English, 1866-1931)

Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Rodin, Auguste

(French, 1840-1917)

 Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse

(French, (1840-1917 and 1824-1887))

Eric Stanford, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Stanford, Eric

(British, Born 1932)

Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Stevens, Alfred

(English, 1818-1875)

Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Strasser, Arthur

(Austrian, 1854-1927)

Sir William Hamo Thornycroft, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Thornycroft, Sir William Hamo

(English, 1850-1925)

Thomas Thornycroft, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Thornycroft, Thomas

(British, 1815 – 1885)

Albert Toft, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Toft, Albert

(English, 1862-1949)

Reuben Townroe, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Townroe, Reuben

(British, 1835-1911)

Anton Van Wouw, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Van Wouw, Anton

(South African, 1862-1945)

Arthur George Walker, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Walker, Arthur George

(British, 1861 - 1936)

Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Zadkine, Ossip

(Russian/French, 1890-1967)