Sculpture Journal

Politics and public sculpture in nineteenth-century colonial French Algeria

Sculpture Journal (2019), 28, (1), 7–34.

Abstract

From its inauguration in 1852 in a prominent public square in Algiers, the venue for a regular marché arabe, Auguste’s Dumont’s Monument of Marshal Bugeaud manifested the power of metropolitan French citizens over Algerian subjects and France’s military and political control of its colony’s natural resources. Politicians at multiple levels networked and leveraged their power to erect a monument honouring Thomas Bugeaud, a controversial military leader and governor general. They sought to overcome all the challenges involved in erecting the symbolic statue, particularly the unprecedented financial commitment and engineering logistics required to construct its pedestal. Grounded in previously unexamined primary sources, this study offers a ground-breaking perspective into the imperialist technologies that were used to exploit the terrain of colonial French Algeria. It provides us with a new framework for understanding the increasing presence and appreciation of polychromy in the architectural interiors and sculpture produced in nineteenth-century France.

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Author details

McQueen, Alison