OIL PAINTING: Bondage, 1895
Although this painting is essentially a historical fantasy, it relies heavily on the discipline of Egyptology in conjuring up an image of Egypt around 1200 BC, and it is likely that Normand immersed himself both in reports of archaeological excavations, and in historical texts such as Flinders Petrie's History of Egypt of 1894.
The Bondage motif is reiterated in the foreground terrace by details such as the finial fabricated in the form of a bound Semitic captive on the side arm of the buyer's couch, and the doves with collared plumages suggestive of imprisoned love. The scintillating light effects and skilful deployment of perspective assist in providing a convincing context for a drama of racial subjugation. The Pharaoh, surrounded by attendants and Nubian servants, consults his chief wife or concubine as to whether he should purchase the merchandise offered by the Semitic dealer who is shown presenting his prize exhibit, a magnificent Nubian standing proudly erect and naked except for her girdle, apparently a willing participant in the sale. The Nubians are represented as dark-skinned Caucasians, who in their nonchalant deportment contrast starkly with the two victims on the right-the young mother crouching with her pre-pubescent daughter , who are white, fair-haired and naked.