Description This lively bust of a little servant wearing the insignia of a cardinal is one of the earliest renderings of an African boy by a European sculptor in bronze. The sensitive detail and expression suggest that this is a likeness of a particular child; nevertheless, the various versions in marble and in bronze-of which this is perhaps the finest-indicate that the bust was meant to represent a general type. Forced servitude was common throughout the world at this time. Many slaves in Europe were Slavs from Eastern Europe and Russia, but others were from sub-Saharan Africa. Handsome children like this boy might be pampered as exotic, but their lives remained restricted. However, they often gained their freedom late in life. De Cock was one of the leading sculptors working in the southern Netherlands (present-day Belgium) in the years around 1700.
- The Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize 2014 Finalists. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2014.
Provenance Marquise de Ganay, Paris [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Marquise de Ganay Sale, Paris, May 8, 1922, no. 83; Arnold Seligman, Rey and Co., New York [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1930, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1930
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