Madame Léon Heuzey
Designer / Maker
By Henri Cros (1840-1902)
Wax, on wooden socle
Height: 20.4 cm
French, circa 1870
Signed: ‘H Cros’ on back, and with depository label for ‘Chenue Emballeur, 5, Rue de la Terrasse,
Paris’, inscribed in ink ‘Mme Léon Heuzey [?] under base
Henry Cros, who descended from a family of scientists and inventors, was well versed in the classics too. He was a sculptor and inventor of exceptional talent and curiosity. Not only (from the 1870s) did he experiment with infusing wax with colour, but he also, from 1883, revived the forgotten ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman method of casting coloured glass-paste, pâte de verre; see Andreas Blühm, et al., The Colour of Sculpture 1840–1910, Zwolle, 1996.
The pâte de verre front on portrait is less usual than the many surviving smallscale profiles by Cros; see, for example, Blühm (op. cit.), nos 13 and 14. There is a comparable ‘mask’ in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (C.56–1992).
If the name Mme Léon Heuzey has been correctly read, she may have been the wife of the archaeologist Léon Heuzey (1831–1922), who would have been a typical Cros patron; see Blühm (op.cit.), p. 101. There was also a Charles Léon Heuzey who married in 1892, in Paris.