Returned to lender The Met accepts temporary loans of art both for short-term exhibitions and for long-term display in its galleries.

Head of a Woman

Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier French

Not on view

Cordier cast this plaster mask after the original clay study for his bust of a woman (African Venus). By emphasizing the figure’s full lips, coiled hair, and dark skin tone, Cordier sought to create an idealized image of African beauty that would appeal to Western audiences who had grown increasingly interested in representations of Black people. Cordier believed his sculptures heralded a change in the understanding of non-Europeans, writing: "My genre had the freshness of something new, revolt against slavery, the budding science of anthropology, widening the circle of beauty by showing that it existed everywhere." Inexpensive reproductions of this mask were sold to artists working in Paris and beyond, reflecting the growing prominence of ethnography and exoticism as artistic subjects in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Head of a Woman, Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier (French, 1827–1905), Plaster and paint, French

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.