Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier (1827-1905), sculptor, and former pupil of François Rude, elevated the Romantic era's fascination with exotic races to a new pinnacle of elegance and verisimilitude in his sculpture. He was particularly interested in the peoples of North Africa and attempted to capture their nobility through his characteristic blending of beauty and ethnographic accuracy. In an undated letter of circa 1861 to Count Walewski, Minister of State and the Imperial Household, Cordier described how 'these fundamentally artistic and scientific works must remain current, as they are not based upon fantasy, but upon types chosen within their sphere and within their atmosphere and executed with acute veracity' (Laure de Margerie, Édouard Papet, Facing the Other: Charles Cordier, ethnographic sculptor, Paris, 2005, p. 133). In 1856, Cordier travelled to Algeria 'to study the various types of indigenous peoples from the standpoint of art' (ibid., p. 131). Upon his return to France, he created sculptures in bronze and marble from thirteen studies that he brought back with him, one of which was, as in the present example, a model of the Nègre du Soudan (Negro of the Sudan). In July 1860, Cordier exhibited an ethnographical and anthropological gallery of fifty sculptures within the Algerian objects exhibition at the Palais de l'industrie, Paris, and in July of that year Napoléon III bought two busts in bronze and onyx including the Nègre du Soudan. Furthermore, the following year, the State purchased the Capresse des Colonies in bronze and onyx on behalf of the private estate of the emperor. Both of these models were displayed in the International Exhibition in London in 1862 (ibid., p. 231). The Nègre du Soudan was one of Cordier's most successful exhibits; he created seven versions of it, and together with the Capresse des Colonies created a reduction model as in the present example in bronze, gilt bronze and silvered bronze on gilt bronze pedestals. The present example in their materials and dimensions are very similar to a pair sold at a Hotel Drouot sale of a number of sculptures owned by Cordier on 21 January 1865, lots 42 and 43 (ibid., p. 153, fig. 78 and 79).