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Bust of a Woman

A work made of bronze.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of bronze.




Charles Henri Joseph Cordier (French, 1827–1905)
Cast by Eck et Durand Fondeur (French, 19th century)

About this artwork

This fictionalized portrayal is a companion piece to the Bust of Saïd Abdullah. Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier initially titled this stylized and highly detailed sculpture Vénus africaine (African Venus), thus conflating the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty with his rendering of a Black woman. Her parted lips and bare shoulders and chest evoke the erotic associations of her former namesake deity, while the draping of her costume suggests Classical refinement.

In 1851 the anthropological gallery of the National History Museum in Paris commissioned casts of this work and the likeness of Abdullah. Cordier’s ethnographic busts reflect mid-19th-century discourse on aesthetics and colonization as well as pseudoscientific theories of race.


On View, Gallery 223


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Charles Henri Joseph Cordier


Bust of a Woman


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.





Inscribed and dated: 1851 / CCORDIER


71.5 × 40.6 × 29.2 cm (28 3/16 × 16 × 11 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Ada Turnbull Hertle Fund

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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