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About the work

Walters Art Museum Object Description

This life-sized work, which is known in about ten versions, shows Shakespeare’s Othello contemplating Desdemona’s handkerchief as he realizes her innocence. A tear runs from his left eye. The sculpture combines marble and bronze to striking effect. The marble is subtly patterned to suggest a textured fabric, and the face and hands in bronze are finely detailed. Pietro Calvi was born in Milan in 1833 and studied at the Milan Academy. He often worked in a combination of bronze and marble in an “Orientalist” style, portraying Africans or those of African descent. He exhibited internationally, including at World’s Fairs. Calvi’s Othello is especially rich for the way in which it intersects with 19th-century ethnographic sculpture but also overturns the assumptions ...

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