The ‘Nubian girl’ is a garden statue designed in the Val d’Osne Art Foundry. The latter was established in 1835 by the celebrated inventor of the cast iron ornament, Jean Pierre Victor André.
The figure is clad in a pleated loincloth with a variation of the nemes (pharaoh) head-dress of ancient Egypt. Her gold-adorned bare body is characteristic of Orientalist fantasies about ‘exotic Egypt’ prevalent in France during the Second Empire (1852-1870).
Napoleon III attempted to emulate his uncle, Napoleon Bonaparte; extending the French Imperial presence in North Africa at this time.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s ‘Belle Époque’ was treated as a decadent playground by French aristocrats, favoured by the Empress Eugénie herself.
Richard Glynn Vivian Bequest, 1911