Emile Picault trained under Louis Royer, a Dutch sculptor, and exhibited at the Salon between 1863 and 1909. His Egyptian subjects rank among his most popular works and follow in the tradition of ethnographical decorative sculpture, which became popular in France during the latter part of the 19th Century. Picault took direct visual quotes from the renowned opera Aida, including the set and costume designs of Pierre-Eugène Lacoste.
In his molding of the head-dress and the skirt of the figures, Picault is looking closely at Lacoste's designs. This is evident in that much of the integrated detail in both artists' work, however authentic it may look, is historically inaccurate. This trend is not exclusive to these two artists. From Clodion to Lucien-Franois Feuchère, all artists working in the late 18th and 19th Centuries had taken inspiration from Egypt and incorporated this new aesthetic and imagery into their art. The famous ancient statue of Antinous in the Capitoline Museum had also been a source of inspiration for most artists looking back at Egypt. Clodion's teraccotta statue of Antinous-Osiris is an early example of this synergy, and Picault's Egyptian figures also exhibit a striking similarity to the ancient statue.
The craze over Egypt had made its way to New York, and its influence had made its way into home decor. Beginning in 1870, when Tiffany's opened their store in Union Square, they encorporated Orientalist sculpture and design into their style. As a result, many of the most modern homes were filled with items such as Picault's Egyptian bronzes, and they could be seen on Tiffany's show room floor.
This pair of bronzes was probably cast by G. Servant, a Parisian fondeur who specialized in Egyptian Revival pieces and who was a medalist at the major international exhibitions between 1867 and 1887.