The present monumental sculpture was originally commissioned by Charles & Fils, Le Havre, importers of exotic woods, to decorate their pavilion at the 1937 Bois exotiques at the L'Exposition Internationale. The pavilion (fig. 1) was located on the quai d'Orsay, near the Pont des Invalides. In the official guide to this exhibition, the carved wooden version was titled Le génie français envoyant des navires à la recherché des essences rares dans les pays d'outre-mer (The French genius sending ships in search of rare essences in overseas countries).
The city of Paris was given the right to cast eight examples of the work in bronze in 1985 by the subsequent owner of the original wood sculpture. The first cast is in the collection of the Zadkine Museum and was installed in February 1993 on place de Finlande in the VIIe arrondissement, at the outlet of the Pont des Invalides, close to its original location.
(fig. 1) Photograph of the carved wooden version of Le Messager installed at the pavilion of the Bois exotiques at the L'Exposition Internationale in 1937.
(fig. 2) The artist in his studio, circa 1931-1932.