Signed JB. Carpeaux.
Stamped with the eagle cachet PROPRIETÉ CARPEAUX
With the pastille BY APPOINTMENT TO THE QUEEN / BELLMAN, IVEY & CARTER / NEW BOND ST / LONDON / MADE IN FRANCE. With plaque CHINOIS BY CARPEAUX
The present work is one of Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s most celebrated sculptures, Le Chinois (Bust of a Chinese man). The piece was originally conceived in 1868, when the sculptor was commissioned by Georges-Eugène Haussmann to create a work to adorn Gabriel Davioud’s fountain at the Observatory in the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris. The group Le Quatre Parties du Monde (Four Parts of the World) was placed at the top of the fountain in 1874 and can still be seen there today. The plaster version of the monument is on permanent display at the Musée d’Orsay.
The Chinois relates to the allegorical representation of Asia, which forms part of the fountain together with America, Europe and Africa. The first sketch for the sculpture dates to 1868 and represents a male bust which the artist created with wide impressionistic strokes. The gender of the figure was later changed to fit the monument’s iconography.