‘Le Belle Epoque’, a white metal bust

‘Le Belle Epoque’, a white metal bust

By Georges Van der Straeten (1856-1928).



Georges Van der Straeten (1856-1928), a rare patinated white metal bust of an optimistic woman.


Van der Straeten was born in Gent, Belgium en worked mainly in Paris, France. He became well known as an artist, but was active as a lawyer as well until 1882. Georges mastered great technical skills and produced many busts of young Parisian women. Georges developed his own style during the ‘Belle Époque’ period in France, which can be related to ‘Art nouveau’. Art Nouveau was most popular between 1890 and 1910 and several art forms were often inspired by natural dynamic curved ‘moving’ forms such as plants and flowers.

The ‘Belle Époque’ period started around 1880 and characterized optimism, peace, economic prosperity and cultural innovations. Van der Straeten translated that optimism as one of the first artists in his work. He is still known as the pioneer of the optimism translated into the Parisian genre in sculpturing.

Most of his works are made with bronze, often patinated. But this peace is made of a white metal alloy, which is rare by his hand. A similar bust made with a metal alloy was sold online previously and dates back to around 1887. This sculpture can be dated around the same period, based on the research on previous similar works.

Made with a white metal alloy

The white metals are a series of often decorative bright metal alloys used as a base for plated silverware, ornaments or novelties, as well as any of several lead-based or tin-based alloys used for things like bearings, jewellery, miniature figures, fusible plugs, some medals and metal type. The term is also used in the antiques trade for an item suspected of being silver, but not hallmarked.

A white metal is often used as a base for plated silverware, ornaments, sculptures, medals and several others. This special alloy is a mixture of different metals and may include tin, lead, cadmium, bismuth or zinc. The artists chooses his own mixture because not all of these metals are found in all white metal alloys. Metals are mixed to achieve a desired goal or need, for example to make this smiling optimistic woman.

Patinated by hand

A patina is a variously thin layer formed on different kind of metals, stones and woods which occurs through age and exposure. But artists often add on purpose patinas by hand to create an aesthetically appealing artwork. In the meantime, it protects the artwork against damages, corrosion or environmental changes. A double plus for artist to work with self-created patinas.



‘Le Belle Epoque’, a white metal bust


Additional information






Patinated white metal


4.343 kg


38.5 x 19 x 12


Georges Van der Straeten (1856-1928)


‘Le Belle Epoque’






19th century


Circa 1887




Slight signs of wear and tear visible


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