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Charles Henri Joseph Cordier
|Born||19 October 1827|
|Died||30 May 1905 (aged 78)|
|Education||École des Beaux-Arts|
|Known for||Sculpture, Painting|
Charles Henri Joseph Cordier (19 October 1827 - 30 May 1905) was a French sculptor of ethnographic subjects.
His first success was a bust in plaster of a Sudanese man "Saïd Abdullah of the Mayac, Kingdom of the Darfur" (Sudan). This was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1848, the same year that slavery was abolished in all French colonies. It is now housed at The Walters Art Museum.
From 1851 to 1866, he served as the official sculptor of Paris's National History Museum, creating a series of spectacularly lifelike busts for their new ethnographic gallery (now housed in the Musee de l'Homme, Paris).
Cordier did not only use 'exotic' models: in the course of his ethnographic work he depicted European types from different parts of France and beyond. His artistic credo was however in conscious opposition to the largely Eurocentric viewpoint prevailing in his day. Addressing the French Society of Anthropology in 1862, Cordier stated:
"Beauty does not belong to a single, privileged race, I have promoted throughout the world of art the idea that beauty is everywhere. Every race has its own beauty, which differs from that of others. The most beautiful black person is not the one who looks most like us."
("Le beau n'est pas propre à une race privilégiée, j'ai émis dans le monde artistique l'idée de l'ubiquité du beau. Toute race a sa beauté qui diffère de celle des autres races. Le plus beau nègre n'est pas celui qui nous ressemble le plus.")
Cordier took part in the great works commissioned by the Second French Empire (Paris Opera, Musée du Louvre, the Hôtel de Ville) or by private interests such as Baron de Rothschild. He died in Algeria.
- Laure de Margerie, Édouard Papet & al. Facing the other: Charles Cordier (1827–1905), ethnographic sculptor. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2004. ISBN 0-8109-5606-3
- Pierre Dalibard c'était le temps où Charles Cordier unissait l'onyx et le bronze. Éditions Tensing, 2012. ISBN 978-2-919750-11-5
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charles Henri Joseph Cordier.|
- African Venus, Said Abdullah & the Sculpture of Charles Cordier
- Charles Cordier in American public collections, on the French Sculpture Census website