Henri Cros Figurative Sculpture - Female Relief Plaque
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Henri Cros
Female Relief Plaque

ca. 1895


HENRI CROS (1840-1907) Female Relief Plaque, polychrome enameled stoneware, c. 1895; signed in black ink verso: “H. Cros”, and a scrap of paper from A.A. Hebrard, Paris attached verso; measuring h: 11.25 x w: 9.38 inches. The symbolist bust in relief of a nude young woman with strawberry blonde hair is a depiction of pensive reverie. With lips slightly pursed, she is lost in thought, looking inward. The female visage hovering just over the nude’s shoulder, perhaps an allusion to a fountain, is by contrast flat and lifeless. With lips parted to reveal a watery blue orifice and wavy tresses of hair blending into a watery expanse, the purely decorative nature of the fountain’s face heightens the physical naturalness of the nude bust while lending it a greater emotional poignancy. Cesar Isidore Henri Cros (b, Narbonne, France 1840-1907, Paris) pioneered a technique known as pate-de-verre, whereby variously colored glasses are placed in a clay mould and kiln-fired to form a vitreous material, by using the acid of metal oxides. Many of Cros’ moulds are preserved today at the Musee Nationale de Ceramiques, Sevres, as it was the Manufacture Nationale de Sevres who had provided Cros a pension and a studio in order to pursue his research and create his work. His tour de force in this genre is the enormous Apotheosis of Victor Hugo housed in the Maison Victor Hugo, Paris. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY also has a fine collection of his work. In addition to his importance to glass-making, Cros was a notable painter, and sculptor. He trained at L’Ecole des beaux-arts de Paris under the sculptors, Francois Jouffroy and Antoine Etex and the painter, Jules Valadon. After his Salon debut in Paris in 1861, Cros joined fellow avant-garde artists to show at the anti-establishment Salon des refuses of 1863. He was awarded several medals for his artistic work at l’Exposition Universelle in 1889 and in 1900 in Paris and was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honnor. In 1905, A.A. Hebrard opened a gallery located at 8 rue Royale in Paris, where they presented sculpture by artists whose work they produced at their foundry. A vestige of the gallery’s ticket, still affixed to the back of the plaque, helps pinpoint that this piece was made just shortly before the artist’s death in 1907. Today, many examples of earthenware fountains and sculpture by Cros can be found in national museums throughout France and in private collections.


  • Movement & Style
  • Condition
  • Condition Details
    Expert restoration of small chip to base. See photos for comparison. Similar piece referenced in The Paris Salons, 1898-1914 by Alastair Duncan, 1998. Pg 31 (see last photo for excerpt).
  • Dimensions
    H 11.25 in. x W 9.38 in.H 28.58 cm x W 23.83 cm
  • Gallery Location
    Chicago, IL
  • Reference Number
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