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Ref. 1259

E. Cornu

Sculptor-ornemanist

(1827-1899)

G. Viot et Cie

Compagnie des marbres Onyx d’Algérie

(Active from 2nd part of 19th century)

Neo-Greek Bust

Signed Machauld et Eug. Cornu – G. Viot et Cie Fondeurs

France

Circa 1867

Height : 64 cm (25 in.) ; Base : 22 x 21 (8 2/3 x 8 1/4 in.)

Bust of a Greek goddess, made entirely of silvered bronze and gilded bronze. The tiara and collar necklace ornating the bust are finely decorated with stylized floral motifs of polychrom champlevé enamel. It rests on a molded base and square plinth made in red griotte marble.

Biography

The sculptor Eugène Cornu (1827-1899), installed in Paris at N.29 rue Popincourt, after having worked as a designer and then director for the renowned company Tahan, worked closely with the « Compagnie des Marbres Onyx d’Algérie », led by Gustave Viot, successor of Alphonse Pallu. They produced luxurious furniture and art objects, incorporating onyx marble and bronze, with sometimes enamel, a combination then considered as a novelty and become quickly highly prized among wealthy collectors. They both showed at the 1867 Universal Exhibition held in Paris a fine pair of onyx, bronze and enamel vases (signed « G. Viot et Cie, Exposition de 1867, Eugène Cornu Inventeur » ; Catalogue Officiel de l’Exposition, groupe III, classe XIV, « meubles de luxe », n°65) for which Cornu and Viot won the Gold Medal (Rapports du Jury International, Exposition Universelle de 1867 à Paris, 1868, t. III, groupe III, classe XV, chapître II, § 2, p°45 & 46). Around 1873, Eugène Cornu became director of the Company, which took then the name of « Société des Onyx d’Algérie E. Cornu et Cie ».

The « Compagnie des marbres Onyx d’Algérie », led by G. Viot and named also « The Algerian Onyx-Marbles Co. », refering to the quarries of onyx the firm exploited near Oran, set up Boulevard des Italiens N.24, in Paris. Founded in the middle of the 19th century, that firm remained opened until the beginning of the 20th century. Onyx, although known since antiquity was not rediscovered until 1849 in Oran Province, Algeria, by Delmonte, a marble worker and fully exploited by Alphonse Pallu in the late 1850’s. The firm G. Viot & Cie produced, after models created by the most well-known sculptors, such as Eugène Cornu, Albert Carrier-Belleuse (Victoria & Albert Museum, Inv. 9070-1863), Charles Cordier (Orsay, Inv. RF 2996) ou Louis-Ernest Barrias (Orsay, Inv. RF 1409), luxuous furniture and art objects, incorporating onyx marbles and bronze, which awarded Viot medals at the various exhibitions, such the Gold Medal at the 1867 Paris Universal Exhibition. Around 1878 the company was then headed by H. Journet which it took his name.

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