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Early in the century a group of French scientists, led by Georges Cuvier — , asserted that the black woman was the incarnation of primitive sexuality.
Her exploitation by Europeans in London and Paris as a sideshow attraction figure 28 had become notorious. Her unexplained, extreme difference from the European body prompted the scientific community to assert that black women were biologically predisposed to pathological sexuality. The Hottentot Venus was positivist proof that the black female was the incarnation of sexual degeneracy.
The strangeness of the Hottentot body was not new to the nineteenth century. She was a scientific document of the nature of the black female. After her death, her body was dissected by Cuvier and her genitalia were preserved and presented as specimens of black female degeneracy. Strother claims that the Hottentots were reported to be a separate species from the black race and were considered undersexed. Reports of their lasciviousness were rare until the nineteenth century.
These ideas radically changed in the nineteenth century. For more on Ourika, see Doris Y. The supposed inherent sexuality of the black female runs through the heart of these novels and poems. The Venus Noire narrative that flourished throughout the century was the unquestioned frame of reference for the image or the idea of the black female. Seemingly disparate discourses in science, literature, and the arts converged in this figure. They produced different, but equally influential harem images that set the tone for the development of this genre throughout the century.
The objects that adorned and appointed her boudoir signified the Orient, not the European body. Delacroix conceived Women of Algiers in their Apartment of figure 30 while on a French diplomatic mission to North Africa. Not only did Delacroix travel to the Orient, but he was purportedly allowed to observe the female quarters of an Algerian household, or what would have been known in the West as a harem. Mary J. In spite of his clear will to document what he experienced in the Moroccan household, Delacroix felt the need to embellish the scene by adding a black servant, a figure that was by this time the definitive sign of Oriental sensuality.
While the three main figures were drawn from life and recorded in his Moroccan sketchbook, the black servant was based on a later sketch of a studio model.
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The black woman, according to Jobert, is a complete invention of the artist. She is thus part of the tradition of European painting since the Renaissance, tying the work to the great Venetian masters, in particular Veronese. He also confirms my contention that the black servant was a critical aspect of the Oriental setting, and actually increases the verisimilitude, or truthfulness, of the painting in the eyes of the spectator.
The addition of the servant was a device that expanded the limits of his experience, enabling him to create a schematized Orient easily consumed by the European audience. Two dark servants in colorful costumes and jewelry flank the sensuous Esther. A striking feature of this work is the black servant to the left of Esther. Presumably the eunuch Hegi, his muscular arms and large hands combined with his jewelry and generic costume lend him an air of androgyny.
He is the inverse of the pale, sinuously elongated Esther. Devout neo-classicist and armchair Orientalist, Ingres combined Orientalized settings and details with his signature Chasseriau transcribed a passage from the Book of Esther in the Salon handbook that inspired this painting. Black servants were important Orientalizing attributes in Turkish Bath. The juxtaposition of dark and light bodies, by this time a conventional symbol of eastern exotica, punctuates the crowded bath.
The black women, one a musician, one serving coffee, another dressing hair, add an anecdotal exoticism to a scene invested in the sensuous white flesh of the bathers. The forward-facing black servant in the hairdressing vignette is juxtaposed with the profile of a white servant figure The round, broad nose, full lips, and dark skin of the servant is a marked contrast to the white skin and aquiline nose of her neighbor. These figures recall the spectrum of types described by eighteenth-century scientists and reinforce the understanding of racial hierarchies that remained alive in the discourse of human physiognomy contemporary to the painting.
The source of the figure is an African attendant with a bowl on her head from a sixteenth-century print by Nicolas de Nicolay. This figure could potentially be the fourth black servant, but she is impossible to identify in the shadows of the door. Concurrent with the rise of Orientalist painting in France was the development of the science and art of photography.
This medium would play a large role in the Orientalist project in France, both as its own This widely reproduced image was published in Jahoda, Images of Savages: Ancient Roots of Modern Prejudice in Western culture, They took their cues from Orientalist artists in constructing their images of the East. Orientalist schemes also influenced photographers who recreated exotic scenes in their local studios.
They also drew upon the trope of the pairing of black and white females to create erotic images in the tradition of Orientalist Salon painting. Abrams, Inc. The black model wears a turban, earrings, and light-colored beads, similar to the pearls seen worn by this figure throughout the centuries. The persistence of the paradigms of race and exoticism in photography is a testament to the strength of the ideas as well as the compelling visual nature of the image of the black in mid-nineteenth-century Paris.
The relationship between photography and Orientalist art was multi-dimensional. Photographers not only borrowed heavily from Orientalist imagery, but Orientalist painters and sculptors relied on photographs to document images and sources for their work.
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Perez contends that the primacy of the photo-realist style in Orientalist art is linked to its close relationship to photography. The process combined printing photographs by copper-plate engraving, resulting in prints comparable to photographs. As he embarked on his series of bathers in , he had an established reputation as a painter, Orientalist, and ethnographer. He followed the footsteps of Delacroix in his search for fidelity to his experiences of North Africa and the Middle East.
Stylistically he maintained the exacting linear quality of Ingres, David, and the traditional academic school, but his exotic, anecdotal subjects had more in common with the juste-milieu than grand history painting. The nudes were primarily mythological subjects and slave markets, both Oriental and Roman.
From the ancient world to the contemporary Mediterranean, women subject to the exploitation, domination, and voyeurism of powerful men recur in his oeuvre. In , he executed two related works that depict a public Cairo slave market, The Slave Market, figure 42 , and A Vendre: Esclaves au Caire figure Replacing the pampered, languorous Salon odalisque, the white nude in A Vendre is a degraded, albeit sensuous, white slave. Served up for sale by the slave dealer lurking in the shadows of the open kiosk, she is seductively distraught and disheveled.
A black woman, also for sale, accompanies her. They complement each other in form and content, true to the convention they represent. The white slave displays full frontal nudity for potential buyers and spectators. The pairing of black and white slaves represents the variety of women that were sold in the Cairo marketplaces, from Circassian to Abyssinian. While technically both for sale, the white slave was destined for an elevated form of concubinage, whereas the black slave would perform the lowest levels of servitude.
Once again, the black female was the symbol of racial degeneracy. The jet black Abyssinian semi-nude sits careless of her fate, whilst a marvelous monkey, worthy of Landseer, squats huddling by her side, from the terms of the sale almost an acknowledged equal, the monkey and the negress evidently going together as one lot. Shuldham asserts that in contrast the black shows M. He established a new vocabulary of Orientalist nudes, an interest that he would sustain throughout his career as a painter.
Elected to the Royal Academy as an honorary member in , he exhibited there in and , as well as at the popular French Picture Gallery. Turner, a London collector. Varying accounts exist of the manner in which Turner acquired the piece. Provenance records for Moorish Bath. Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Tooth sold the piece and it eventually ended up in the collection of Robert Jordan of Boston, Massachusetts, who donated it to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Since the s when the interest in European Orientalist art exploded in the United States, Moorish Bath has been included in numerous publications and exhibitions.
Moorish Bath was the first in a series of bathers that eventually resulted in approximately 27 works, three of which share the title Moorish Bath. Dating from through the s, they range from intimate groups of two such as the Moorish Bath and the — 85 version of the same theme figure 43 , to multi-figured compositions such as his Grand Bath at Bursa of figure Most of the scenes take place in an interior, as in Pool in a Harem, ca. Black and White Slavery For more than a century, European artists had seized upon the allure of the Oriental female captive to transform European bodies Ibid.
Many of these paintings were published as prints or photogravures. The tension between Africa and Europe is the overriding framework within which the various polarities operate in Moorish Bath. Africa, once filtered through the veil of the Orient, was by the mid-nineteenth century understood as a separate entity. Africans came to represent a set of ideas and issues that were developed within the realm of ethnography.
This notion of biological comparison represents a qualitative shift in the understanding of human difference since the Enlightenment. The titillating notion of sexual servitude was more than a pure fantasy. The Eastern harem was a well-known aspect of Oriental culture dating back centuries. In it Lane describes white slaves in the harem as Greek, Circassian, and Georgian, and black slaves as Abyssinian, Nubian, or simply black.
First published in , the definitive edition was published in They are richly dressed, presented with valuable ornaments, indulged, frequently, with almost every luxury that can be procured… Black women in harems were almost exclusively slaves. By , Europe and America had abolished slavery, but it was only nominally prohibited in North Africa and the Middle East. In spite of attempts to eradicate the ancient tradition, the trans-Saharan trade in Nubian or Sudanese blacks continued to supply Egypt and other Islamic countries slave labor throughout the nineteenth century.
At times problematic, his general descriptions of the ethnicity of Egyptian slaves have been confirmed by twentieth-century historians. Although domestic servants, they were not exempt from the role of sexual servant. The black slave evoked both a timeless, antiquated Orient with a barbaric and uncivilized culture, as well as a contemporary society that failed to embrace the modern social structures of the Western powers.
The desirable women in an Orientalist painting conformed to European standards of beauty. However, historical accounts of slavery in nineteenth-century Islamic societies maintain that white female slaves were scarce. The lack of supply actually served to increase the demand for black slaves. However, the white female nude remained the nucleus of Orientalist Salon painting.
The black servant then played a crucial role in symbolizing race in the harem and therefore transforming the white nude from a contemporary European society to the exotic local. Kabbani, Europe's Myths of Orient, The controversy of contemporary sexuality was avoided by the exotic context. For more on the controversial nude in nineteenth-century art see T. Binaries In the case of the black servant plus the white nude, the sum is greater than its parts. Carefully crafted binaries create a reaction that evokes exoticism in a manner that neither figure could achieve alone.
Her darkness is the absence of beauty that enhances the beauty of whiteness. The elements of race and sex, integral to the fantasy of the Orient, are grafted onto the body of the African servant and through her permeate the scene. The differences between the figures are not limited to race and ethnicity. The body of the servant is muscular. She is actively involved with bathing her mistress. Her muscles bulge as she holds a large basin of water. She is the foil for the passive, fleshy nude bather seated on the tile bench.
The black servant wears a turban, a typical headdress of the exotic slave, while the nude wears no headgear. A litany of contrasts define the subject as well as the composition. His detailed eye contributed to his reputation as an ethnographer in his own time, and it has revealed his extreme artifice to later observers. It is probable that some of the models worked for more than one artist. Recently, Phylis A. Floyd uncovered a photograph of a black woman she contends is Laure. The name on the photograph is Lucie. Phylis A. Spring Hence, the issue of authenticity became more critical to the image of the black woman as a central figure.
The authenticity of the scene hinged on it. Ethnic costume and jewelry was an important aspect of representing the Oriental body. The most striking feature is her Moroccan-style necklace figure Even though he never traveled to Morocco, he had access to jewelry from across the Mahgreb in the Cairo marketplaces he visited.
A photograph by Gamianoset Sarolides, active in Egypt in the s, depicts a Bedouin woman with a similar headdress figure In the tradition of Rubens, Nattier, and VanLoo, jewelry and headdress were important elements in the adornment of the exotic slave. However, before the primacy of ethnography in exoticism, the jewelry was limited to pearls or coral beads, items that symbolized luxuries to Europeans.
The servants who wore them were exotic luxuries as well. Although impossible to determine where the cloth originated, it resembles fabric found in nineteenth-century photographs of North Africans. Ethnographic artist Alfred Dehodencq — depicted a black man draped in a comparable weave in Moroccan Storyteller of figure His series of Oriental baths portray the intimate interiors of a world of eastern wealth and luxury. Stephen R. Two versions of Moorish Bath, and — 85, represent a private Cairo bath, possibly the domain of a wealthy Turk.
These harem baths offer the viewer access to a world of private luxury and sensuality that had been the center of European fantasies of the east for more than a century. Ettinghausen states that this setting is modeled after a Turkish palace kiosk, but does not identify it as Topkapi. These items have been associated with the harem environment since the eighteenth century. In the Orientalist interior and the erotic scenes in this genre almost always depict an interior , the setting is vital to the body it cushions. His detailed renderings of settings and decorative objects have prompted some to claim that his work is an accurate depiction of another culture, and others to maintain that it falsely authenticates a fantasy world.
For a balanced view to this issue see Walter B. Within the ongoing narrative of sexuality that permeated the visual arts for two hundred years, the black woman generally played the role of the slave Linda Nochlin, The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society New York: Harper and Row, Out of the many compelling aspects of what Europeans considered Oriental culture, French artists seemed to be obsessed with the explosive combination of black slavery and white sexuality through the veil of the exotic. His particular passion for black African figures gave new form to the black exotic.
Cordier has assembled the most complete and scholarly collection of anthropological portraits seen. Some are marvels of luxury and decoration where rare marbles, gold, precious stones are put together with a totally Oriental taste. Even though his expressed efforts to dignify and celebrate the beauty of the black race were a departure from the caricature that typified this brand of imagery, his Africans remained bound to complex historical tropes of blackness. While painting was, by far, the most prevalent medium for Orientalist representation, the phenomenon had a powerful voice in the sculptor Charles Cordier.
See Peter Fusco and H. Janson, eds. Here I am using titles as translated in the recent exhibition catalogue and most comprehensive study of Cordier to date. However, when considering its relationship to blackness, Orientalist sculpture experienced a trajectory distinct from painting. Rooted in the decorative arts, it traveled through ethnographic practice into academic sculpture, and returned to the decorative arts.
He believed his sculpture represented both accurate and ideal examples of racial physiognomy, reflecting current ethnographic methods that often drew conclusions regarding the intellectual and moral qualities of racial types based on physiological features. The revival of interest in antique sculpture was fueled by Johan Joachim Winckelmann — , a German scholar whose notion that bodies represented in classical sculpture were ideal forms, reoriented William B.
The paradigm of ideal beauty that was considered inherent in classical Greek and Roman sculpture was the standard followed by neoclassical sculptors of the late-eighteenth and nineteenth century. Historical and mythological themes from antiquity abounded. Contemporary themes were also depicted in the style of the antique. White marble was the material used by the ancients as evidenced by the antiquities that flooded European museums and private collections.
It was therefore the principle medium in this new wave of classicism. Even though it was known that many ancient works were originally polychrome, most European artists and critics resisted this as a corruption of the ideal. He boldly conceived his series of ethnographic sculptures in a variety of materials and patinas. Although he is not solely responsible for the resurgence of this practice, his work was in the forefront of its revival Alex Potts, Flesh and the Ideal: Winckelmann and the Origins of Art History New Haven: Yale University Press, , Jeanne L.
Wasserman Cambridge: Fogg Art Museum, A dictatorial ruler, Napoleon III presided over a period of development and prosperity for France that brought about the growth of foreign trade, the spread of industry and railways, as well as an explosion of public works projects. Although his policies were often ill fated, he fashioned himself as an Emperor in the tradition of his uncle, Napoleon I, and attempted to construct an imperial culture centered in Paris.
His resounding defeat occurred in a disastrous attempt to exercise power in Mexico. His foreign policy stirred controversy during his own time. New York: W. Norton and Company, Manhood and the exotic black Until Cordier initiated the genre of ethnographic sculpture in the mid-nineteenth-century, no cohesive tradition of representing black men in modern sculpture existed.
Napoleon I acquired Maure in and it was on display in the Louvre around Vercoutter et al. No relationship exists between Nicolas Cordier and Charles Cordier. Cordier used black marble to depict the black skin of the Moor, a technique dating back to antiquity. The Moor had various incarnations since the Renaissance vogue for exotic blacks in painting and literature. Paul H. Sculpted without the ubiquitous turban, Head of an African represents black Africa unmediated by the veil of the Orient. The ideas were first developed in response to European observation of American indigenous people.
Orientalist works were never isolated; they built on one another. As Edward Said demonstrated, Orientalism was an interrelated discourse encompassing a variety of media that shaped Western understanding of the East. They were a body of discreet but related works that collectively communicated the mythologies of the Orient.
While as we have seen, black females were plentiful in harem imagery, black men populated earlier Orientalist battle scenes fashionable in the Napoleonic era. In the context of war and colonial pursuits, the notion of the noble savage that circulated in eighteenth- century idealist concepts of race slipped into the merely savage. In Todorov, On Human Diversity, trans. His nude body radiates sexual energy. The richly adorned black eunuch in the background became a ubiquitous symbol for the Oriental harem in European painting throughout the century.
In Orientalist mythology, the eunuch was far from the aggressive, potent soldier. He was a passive, impotent accessory, similar to the adoring page. This For a reading of the complex erotic relationships between the male soldiers in this painting see Grigsby, Extremities: Painting Empire in Post-Revolutionary France, - Thus the unbridled savage and the passive eunuch bracketed the spectrum of black manhood in Orientalist art.
In his early years, he studied drawing at a local art school and briefly apprenticed with a jeweler. He studied modeling with a sculptor in Lille before leaving for Paris in For more on arts institutions and patronage in the nineteenth century see Harrison C.
White and Cynthia A. In 15 days, I made this bust and sent it to the Salon, having no doubts it would be received. Manuscript retained by the family. Yet instead of a barbarian, he was a free man, from one of the best families of the Yebou nation. Abrams, , Certainly more so than the degenerate African type that was lowly ranked because of a sharp skull angle as asserted Camper and others. Additionally, the comment on his arms is an oblique reference to the studies of the simian nature of blacks.
The Swiss pastor, theologian, and mystic, Johann Caspar Lavater — , revived and popularized the ancient art of physiognomy in late-eighteenth-century France. This classification led to a ranking of humans, not races, by their facial angle. In order to obtain exact replicas of the human skull, phrenologists developed the practice of collecting and examining skulls and plaster casts taken from live subjects. Bindman, Ape to Apollo, Like other artists, Cordier disapproved of the use of life casts for his artistry.
However, his Harry N.
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Abrams, This unplanned meeting resulted in a bust that received positive critical attention stimulating Cordier to take his work into a new direction. Nevertheless, he gained a consciousness about race, science, beauty, and art that would henceforth impact his treatment of black subjects.
By , Cordier had the bust cast in bronze. The list retains the spellings as originally published. It is difficult to determine if the artist or the exhibitor initiated the change, but the amended title reflects an artistic and intellectual climate that rarely accepted representations of blacks as individuals, particularly in the context of ethnographic Orientalism.
Crowning him in a fez rather than a turban was a departure from the standard images of Orientals. The fez was a headdress that originated in Fez, Morocco, but by the nineteenth century was worn across North Africa. In , Turkish Sultan Mahmud II — decreed that his army, administration and all government employees should adopt the fez in place of the turban as a headdress. The symbol of a modernized Muslim society, it was eventually adopted across social and religious lines throughout the region. Martin's Griffin, , Like Harwood figure 55 , Cordier used the time-honored, antique format of the portrait bust to depict the black male.
Because the life cast is available for comparison figure 59 we can confirm that Cordier retained the structure and general features of the model. Comparison with the life cast also confirms some subtle amendments imposed by Cordier. Cordier opposed the use of life casting in sculpture. It is not clear if he ever saw or used the cast of Enkess. Cordier extended the facial hair around the jaw, creating sideburns that connected with his hairline and defined the eyebrows.
The idealization of flaws or inconsistencies was a typical practice in portraiture, but not in ethnographic documentation. However, as an artist, with the aim of exhibition at the Salon, he had to refine the piece, smoothing surfaces and balancing the composition. He modified the subject into a work of art using the techniques and traditions of art rather than science.
However, because the individualized portrait of a black African was antithetical to the standards of fine sculpture, the piece was more readily accepted within an anthropological or ethnographic milieu. Cordier would henceforth designate his ethnographic portraits as racial types.
The exhibition, generally designed to highlight the industrial advances of modern nations, included the fine arts, but limited to sculpture only. Some French sculptors were unenthusiastic about participating because they did not want their work characterized as industrial. Art or science, the exoticized treatment of blacks in sculpture was no doubt a novelty that stood out among the typical exhibition fare, prompting the Royal family to take notice. She presented the busts to her husband Prince Albert in Her clinging silk dress of light pink contrasts vividly with the darkness of her skin and molds precisely to the long body, her hollow back and her pointed breasts…The weight of her enormous head of From the information in the catalogue it is unclear if the busts were delivered together or separately.
Heavy earrings dangle secretly at her ears…At the hour when even the dogs whine with pain under the sun that bites them, what powerful motive makes Dorothy move, beautiful and cold like bronze? He evokes painting in the description of her contrasting skin and dress. Baudelaire, like Cordier, celebrated the sensuality of the black woman in spite of the conflicts inherent in her appeal.
A singular example is the bronze Black Venus by Italian sculptor Danese Cattaneo, — figure The full-length nude Venus gazes at herself in a handheld mirror. Wearing a turban, she is the exoticized incarnation of a typical European Venus. Characteristic of the Renaissance approach to blackness, there is no attempt at capturing a racially marked body.
JanMohamed contends that even when an author is reluctant to acknowledge systems of colonial power and may be critical of imperial exploitation, he is nevertheless drawn into the strong currents of its vortex. Abdul R. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, , This figure has been described, on the one hand, as an objectified woman, stripped of her selfhood, and on the other, as evidence of the desirability of African women in the eyes of early modern European men.
Before the nineteenth century, black women were generally not cast as the object of erotic desire, but maintained a more ornamental function. In the eighteenth century, French neo-classical sculptor Jean- Antoine Houdon — brought the conventional black attendant and white bather into full sculptural form. This exemplifies the movement of the exotic black beyond the canvas to a multitude of ornamental three-dimensional incarnations in the eighteenth century.
A faintly opened mouth and heavy eyelids give the figure an expression of languor. Her body leans slightly to the left, accentuating her curvaceous torso. She wears a striped fabric wrapped around her body that clings to her breasts, revealing erect nipples. Her arms and shoulders are bare. She is adorned with a necklace of cloves and large, dangling earrings with gold patina.
The clove necklace added an aromatic dimension of exotic perfume to this evocative piece. Black women in European art traditionally wore turbans or head wraps that completely covered their hair. The artists made no attempt at capturing the volume and density of African hair. Throughout the centuries, artists depicted Venus with long, flowing hair. As discussed in Chapter 3, by the middle of the nineteenth century, the idea of the black woman as the embodiment of innate sexuality entered the scientific discourse through the case of Sarah Baartman, the so-called Hottentot Venus.
Venus, the traditional goddess of love and sensuality was alluring and attractive, the ideal of European beauty. The incongruity of the Hottentot woman as goddess of love created a humorously absurd spectacle for the enjoyment of European audiences. It was as the figure of the anti-erotic that Baartman was reassuring to a European audience. Although Cordier may not have intended the piece to satirize black female beauty, it nonetheless upheld the ambivalence associated with the tension between Africa, which historically equaled non-beauty, and the essence of mythological beauty, Venus.
Cordier would have been aware of the implications of casting a black woman as Venus in the revered medium of sculpture. The purity of white marble that had encased the body of Venus for centuries was the ideal medium for sculpture in the mid-nineteenth century. Charmane A. Nelson reads the privileging of white marble in neoclassical sculpture as a decidedly racialized discourse in which black bodies were disavowed, while the white body was the standard of representation. Quite simply, the term classical was not neutral, but a racialized term which activated the marginalization of blackness at its antithesis.
Even though Gibson followed the antique tradition of painting sculpture that was experiencing a revival in Europe, the nineteenth-century audience accustomed to white marble found the colored Venus disturbingly sexualized. He used white marble for the heads of the Greek and Italian figures such as Femme hydriote, Baboulina Woman of Hydra, Baboulina , figure 67 , even if the clothing was polychrome. Modern Greeks and Italians were not only racially European, but descended from the great classical civilizations that were immortalized in white marble.
Straddling the axis of ethnographic and Orientalist art, Venus Africaine as constructed by Cordier was an acceptable object. Under the rubric of scientific inquiry, Cordier could explore the overt sensuality of the black woman as Venus without violating the mythological territory reserved for white bodies. Nonetheless, the artist became known for his skills at capturing both the physiognomy and the decorative beauty of different races and their costumes.
By , Cordier began to make plans to visit North Africa. As previously stated, a crucial part of the education and training necessary for an artist to become an authentic Orientalist was to experience the Orient firsthand. The contact and interaction with exotic subjects were the credentials needed to be considered an accurate interpreter. Unfortunately, his plan to travel and produce a gallery of new works did not materialize in time for the Exposition.
Receiving an honorable mention, Cordier established his niche as a sculptor of ethnographic types in a forum designed to showcase the arts and industries of the new French Empire. Whereas his earlier work pointed to the French colonial presence in North Africa, his state-sponsored travels were an arm of the colonial incursion into Algeria, integrating his artistry with the colonial project. The French invaded Algeria in , beginning a long and contentious battle for colonial rule in the North African country.
The establishment of a French presence there fueled the Orientalist movement. Because his work was conflated with the science of ethnography, it had the power as well as the explicit goal to educate European audiences about the Orient. Yet the objects that resulted were highly aestheticized works of art, more closely related to decorative objects than to scientific documents.
In , Cordier exhibited twelve busts made from studies done on his trip to the Orient at the Paris Salon. He presented fifty sculptures that included types from North Africa, Greece, Italy and the French provinces. The combination of the black body and Oriental materials in an artfully rendered object demonstrates the conflation of blackness with the decorative that encased the image of the exotic black for centuries.
Since the Renaissance, the formal qualities of black bodies and their ability to interact with color, as well as whiteness, enhanced the vitality of the painted image. Cordier harnessed the traditional power of blackness to enhance color in the medium of sculpture and created a new language of exoticism in decorative sculpture. For European artists, the experience of color and light was a draw to the Orient.
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It was not unusual for an artist to return from the Orient with an entirely different concept of color and light in rendering Orientalist subjects. Delacroix is a well-known example of an artist whose concept of the Orient prior to the voyage was literary in nature, shaped by the exoticist mythologies circulating in European arts and letters.
Contributing to the marriage between ethnography, polychromy, and Orientalism was the presence of rediscovered ancient Roman imperial marble quarries near Constantine, Algeria. Also known as antique or Oriental alabaster, this stone was plentiful and easy to carve. Abrams, Inc, , He used a combination of oxidized silvered bronze for the head and onyx marble for the clothed body and turban.
The technique of combining bronze and marble was common in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century portraiture. It was used in the production of goblets, pedestals, and other luxury items. The dark bronze skin, originally silvered, is juxtaposed with a tunic carved from multi- toned onyx-marble. Fashioned from the same marble, a turban is cocked to the side of his head, revealing his entire forehead and part of his hairline.
Decorative patterns and buttons adorn his clothing and turban. The figure has three small scars incised on each side of his mouth. The marks probably represent ritual scarification common to some African culture groups. The tension between the savage and the beautiful is at the heart of decorative exoticism. Without knowing more about the model it is difficult to determine their source or significance.
For more on scarification see Arnold Rubin, ed. Antique objects from Algeria were sent to Paris and placed on permanent display at the Louvre beginning in Ancient objects were absorbed into the cultural patrimony of France, and their forms became part of the language of French national identity.
Jobert, Delacroix, He embellishes the sculpture with stories of their racial lineages, their talents, and their spirituality. The formal qualities of the black triumphed once again. This specific instance of using blacks in decorative exoticism has been linked to the complexities of Elizabethan iconography. Karen C. He wears a feather hat and skirt encrusted with multi-colored jewels, and one large hoop earring.
Grinning with teeth exposed, he holds a tray of unpolished emeralds. Fundamentally, he evokes the association of blacks with slavery and colonial labor. This work was jeweled by the famed baroque jeweler Johann Melchoir Dinglinger. It evokes the splendor of Baroque Dresden. One area of the decorative tradition that is seldom linked to sculpture but is relevant in terms of the fashioning of the black exotic is jewelry design.
As we have seen in paintings by Titian and Mignard, jewelry worn by black servants signified their status as luxurious commodities. Possibly growing out of this trend, Europeans manufactured sumptuous jewelry fashioning Africans in precious materials. Architectural Ornament With the resurgence of polychromy in the Second Empire, Cordier fused his ethnographic interests with the formal possibilities of ornamental blackness into a distinct style of decorative sculpture.
Blackamoor pendants of precious materials are produced in Venice today. Two men and two women, they are in the mode of allegorical typologies, although they do not represent the four continents. Three are African types, while one female wears a feathered headdress, symbolic of the Americas. The female figures are similarly wrapped in marble drapery. One of the male figures closely Atlantes are the sculpted male figures used in place of a column as supporting features in architecture.
Caryatids refer to the female supporting figures. By individualizing these figures, Cordier used the language of his ethnographic work to distinguish the beauty of these dark races in the format of the decorative. However, the decorative style featuring black Africans as support figures in architecture, furniture, and other objects developed out of this convention. Because of improved reproduction techniques, serialized sculpture increased in popularity during the s.
Both images began as bronzes and were subsequently refashioned in increasingly decorative patinas and materials. A further, wide-ranging essay, on cityscapes, discusses novels from Cameroon, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and Kenya, as well as paintings from Equatorial Guinea and public placarding in Accra.
Social awareness, a firm sense of history and traditional culture, the contemporary challenges of gender and identity-politics, and the perennial theme of endemic corruption are themes that underpin all of the contributions to Matatu Matatu has traditionally fostered the publication of creative writing, and the present issue is no exception, featuring as it does poetry from Trinidad, a play from Nigeria, and short stories from Burundi, Ghana, and Nigeria.
Contributors are : E. Adeleke, Tony E. Ibrahim, Isaiah U. Ilo, Ayodele S. Terms and Conditions Privacy Statement. Powered by: PubFactory. Sign in to annotate. Delete Cancel Save.