Pair of antique Orientalist patinated bronze busts by Cordier

By Cordier, Charles-Henri-Joseph (French, 1827-1905)


Exceptionally moulded and patinated to cast a real likeness, this pair of bronze busts are two of the artist’s most acclaimed models.


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The two patinated bronze busts are fine Orientalist works of sculpture by a celebrated French artist.

The male figure looks downward with a sombre expression, his facial features cast with wonderful symmetry and care. He wears a patinated turban, richly carved with geometric designs, and his clothing is similarly ornate in style. By contrast, the female figure is pictured with a calm, almost sleepy expression. Decked in gilded jewellery, her hair is elegantly swept up inside a headscarf. Swathes of fabric cover her body, with the excess thrown over her right shoulder.

The two busts are of a mid-brown patina, which is beautifully used to illustrate the folds in garments. Both bronzes sit on flared bronze bases.

Both bronzes are signed ‘Cordier 1861’. Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier (1827-1905) was a world-renowned Orientalist sculptor, known for his studies of the people of North Africa. After a visit to Algeria, he created bronze and marble sculptures from thirteen studies of individuals he encountered, one of which was the original of the present male figure.

The originals of both the male and female busts were shown at the 1860 Palais de l'industrie, Paris, at which point Napoleon III bought the male figure. The following year, the State purchased the female bust on behalf of the private estate of the emperor. The models went on to be recast several times, and were displayed International Exhibition in London in 1862.

A very similar pair by the artist sold at Christie's, Stephane Boudin at 5 Belgrave Square, Les Objets de L'Empire & Mount Kennedy, Ireland. Three Private Collections, London, 16 March 2012, Lot 102 (£58,850).

Boasting a fascinating imperial history, this pair is a true collector’s item.

Man: Height 42cm, width 32cm, depth 18cm
Woman: Height 40cm, width 26cm, depth 16cm


Artist / Maker
By Cordier, Charles-Henri-Joseph (French, 1827-1905)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
Patinated Bronze


42 cm / 16.5 inches
32 cm / 12.6 inches
18 cm / 7.1 inches


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