Guillemin Orientalist Busts Guillemin Orientalist Busts Guillemin Orientalist Busts Guillemin Orientalist Busts Guillemin Orientalist Busts
Janissaire du Sultan Mahmoud II and Jeune fille du Caire, A Pair of Orientalist Polychrome Painted Bronze Busts on Veined Burgundy Marble Socles

Cast from a Model by Emile-Coriolan-Hippolyte Guillemin, 1879

The first inscribed E le GUILLEMIN 1879 and stamped TIFFANY & C°, the second inscribed E le GUILLEMIN 1879 on the reverse

The first bust: 25 in (63.5 cm) high
The second bust: 29 ¼ in (74.5 cm) high

Paris, Salon, 1880, nos. 6395 and 6396

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Born in Paris in 1841, Emile Guillemin made his debut at the Salon in 1870 showing a pair of figures depicting Roman gladiators, later winning an Honourable Mention for sculpture in 1897. Although his oeuvre included a wide range of subjects, Guillemin specialised in exotic types and was renowned as a proponent of the Orientalist movement.

The present pair, first exhibited at the Salon of 1880, represents an example of the finely detailed polychrome sculptures for which Guillemin is best known. Polychrome sculpture was controversial when revived in the 1850s by Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier and John Gibson, but became increasingly fashionable in the 1860s, eventually meriting its own class at the Salons and International Expositions.

An unusual and romantic subject for portraiture, a Janissaire was a member of an elite corps in the service of the Ottoman Empire. This corps originally comprised prisoners-of-war pressed into service, but it gained power, making and bringing down sultans, before itself being abolished under Sultan Mahmud II (d.1839).

The vogue for Moorish or Turkish taste was first popularised in America by the Turkish bazaar at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, and continued through the 1880s. The presence of a retailer’s mark for the prestigious New York firm of Tiffany & Co. indicates that such a subject found a ready market in America at the end of the 19th century.