• La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Capresse des Colonies - Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
Click image to enlarge

La Capresse des Colonies

Charles Henri Cordier

(French, 1827-1905)

Signed and dated 1861 Cordier
Bronze with silver and golden gilding on a yellow marble base
Height: 16" (40 cm)

Conceived and cast circa 1861

Charles Cordier was born in Cambrai and was apprenticed as a boy to a jeweller. This experience fundamentally inspired the fine detailing of his later sculpture and the ornate use of varying patinas, enamel decoration and mixed media for which he is well known.

Cordier studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris and then with the prominent sculptor François Rude. He exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon in 1847 and soon became fascinated by the foreign races. This speciality combined perfectly with the French interest in their new colony Algeria and the fashionable Beau Ideal of the Second Empire. He thus gained the commission from the Paris Museum of Natural History to produce busts for a special ethnographic gallery, also travelling extensively on an ethnographic mission sponsored by the government, going to Algeria in 1856, Greece in 1858 and Egypt in 1866.

The first bust in his series of studies was entitled Said Abdallah de la Tribu du Dufour and dates to 1848. This date is relevant both in French history and in Cordier’s career, for on April 27 of that year the government passed the law abolishing slavery in France and its colonies. In his unpublished memoirs, Cordier links specifically this event to the development of his art, stating that "my art incorporated the reality of a whole new subject, the revolt against slavery and the birth of anthropology." International interest in Cordier’s sculpture has recently increased thanks to the retrospective exhibition organised by the Musée d’Orsay in 2004, Facing the Other: Charles Cordier, Ethnographic Scultpure.

C.Cordier, Capresse des Colonies, Musée d’Orsay

The present work, Capresse des Colonies dates to 1861. It was first exhibited at the Salon in Paris and was purchased for the residence of the French emperor, Napoleon III. The sculpture then became part of the Louvre collection before passing into the hands of the curators at the Musée d’Orsay. The original concept of the work mixed Algerian marbles with bronze-work to achieve the polychrome effect for which Cordier was renowned. Another version of the sculpture in marble and bronze is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection, New York.

The present cast is a reduction of the Orsay and Metropolitan Museum versions. It was produced in Cordier’s atelier – another similar bronze is part of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Massachussets.

C. Cordier, Capresse des Colonies, Wellesley Museum

Compared to the piece in this American institution, the present cast elegantly displays Cordier’s desire to emulate the polychromy of his larger models. The figure’s gilded hairpiece, undervest and jewellery contrast the silver tones of her turban, vest and skin. Moreover, the light chiselling on the figure’s skin enhances the vitality of the piece and, together with the linear hatching of the vest and turban, demonstrates the great technical achievements of Cordier’s casting in his atelier.

Works by Charles Henri Cordier

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)