Description This bronze is believed to be modeled on the combined appearances of several women; Cordier later recorded that he composed his busts in this way. First exhibited with the title “Black Woman from the Colonies,” the sculpture was renamed “African Venus” in 1857 by the French critic Théophile Gautier. Intending to ennoble the subject through a Eurocentric reference to the ancient Roman goddess of love, Gautier’s retitling further erased the specificities of the Black woman’s composite identity. Regarded in the 19th century as powerful expressions of nobility and dignity, this sculpture and its companion piece "Saïd Abdullah of the Mayac, Kingdom of Darfur (Seïd Enkess)" or "Black Man from Timbuktu" (WAM 54.2664) proved to be highly popular: casts were acquired by the Museum of Natural History in Paris and also by Queen Victoria. The Walters' pair were cast by the Paris foundry Eck and Durand in 1852.
- The Allure of Bronze. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1995.
- Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001.
- A Magnificent Age: Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte. 2002-2004.
- From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2014-2016.
Provenance Shepherd Gallery, New York; Walters Art Museum, 1991, by purchase.
Credit Museum purchase, 1991
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