About the work

Walters Art Museum Object Description

This lively bust of a little servant wearing the insignia of a cardinal is an early rendering of an African boy by a European sculptor in bronze. The sensitive detail and expression suggest that this is a likeness of a particular child; nevertheless, the various versions in marble and in bronze-of which this is perhaps the finest-indicate that the bust was meant to represent a general type. There is also a version of this bust in white marble. Forced servitude was common throughout the world at this time. Many slaves in Europe were Slavs from Eastern Europe and Russia, but others were from sub-Saharan Africa. Handsome children like this boy might be pampered as exotic, but their lives remained restricted. ...

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