This sensuous harem girl is characteristic of Cordier's skilful blending of beauty and ethnographic detail. Since the French Algerian conquest artistic interest in the exotic and oriental races was strong, particularly in painting. Cordier further developed this interest in his sculptures; he was fascinated by ethnographic accuracy and the nobility and elegance of foreign races, and was commissioned by the Paris Museum of Natural History to produce busts for a specific ethnographic gallery. In this pursuit Cordier travelled extensively and, in 1866, travelled to Egypt on an ethnographic mission sponsored by the French government. He returned with seven plaster studies, of which one was the present model (now in the Ecole Nationale des Arts et Industries Textiles, Roubaix). Besides his pronounced taste for the exotic, Cordier was much in keeping with the artistic aspirations of 'Le Beau Idéal' and 'Le Progrès Technique' of the Second Empire. Though his subjects were usually exotic, he imbued them with an ideal beauty and was one of the promotors of rich polychromy, unusual patinas and silvering. Consequently, Cordier's sculptures captured the attention of a rich clientèle, while simultaneously achieving a new ethnographic interest, as he stated in his memoirs: "Je créais l'étude des races" (De Carpeaux à Matisse, op. cit., p. 160). A version of the present model in bronze, gold, silver, turquoise and porphyry was exhibited in the Exposition Universelle of 1867.