Emile Coriolan Hippolyte Guillemin (1841-1907) a pair of white marble busts of Oriental ladies, possibly "Sulamita"
Lot 195
Emile Coriolan Hippolyte Guillemin (1841-1907)
a pair of white marble busts of Oriental ladies, possibly "Sulamita"
£50,000 - 80,000
US$ 83,000 - 130,000
Lot Details
Emile Coriolan Hippolyte Guillemin (1841-1907)
a pair of white marble busts of Oriental ladies, possibly "Sulamita"
each wearing typical headgear, jewellery and drapery over their shoulders, on a waisted circular grey marble circular base, each signed to the back Ele. Guillemin, 46cm wide, 30cm deep, 80cm high (18in wide, 11 1/2in deep, 31in high). (2)

Footnotes

  • The subject is possibly inspired by the 18th century author Giuseppe Maria Ercolani's play La Sulamitide, Boschereccia, Sagra di Neralco Pastore Arcade, published in 1733, about a son of the king of Egypt and the daughter of Solomon called Sulamita.

    The depiction of Middle Eastern themes has been employed by European artists for centuries, in works by Veronese, Rembrandt and Jean-Etienne Liotard among others. In nineteenth-century France, however, Orientalism took on a new dimension with the conquest and occupation of Egypt by Napoleon Bonaparte (1798-1801), the French invasion of Algiers in 1830, and the Greek war for Independence (1821-32). Generations of artists including Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Léon Gérôme travelled to North Africa, Greece and Turkey to observe the people and cultures of these regions. This fascination with Middle Eastern culture has been described by literary theorist Edward Said as a way of Europe examining itself in the mirror image of a related culture:
    "The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe's greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurrent images of the Other. In addition, the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience." (in: Orientalism, 1978)

    By the time Emile Guillemin was working as a young artist in the 1860s, Orientalism had become an established genre and almost a rite of passage for many French painters and sculptors. Guillemin's first sculpture with an Orientalist theme was a marble and bronze bust entitled Femme Mauresque, which was the start of a series of portrait busts of beautiful Middle Eastern women. By the 1870s, Guillemin had become one of the leading French sculptors working in the Orientalist genre, his works included the above mentioned Middle Eastern beauties as well as horsemen, falconers and warriors.
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