Émile Arthur Soldi or Soldi-Colbert (1846, Paris, France - 1906, Rome, Italy), was a medalist, sculptor, and archaeology and art historian.
A French citizen of Danish descent (his real patronym was Soldyck, from a Danish Jewish family), Soldi received the Grand Prix de Rome in medal engraving at age 23, and went on with a prolific career as a sculptor, writer and translator Danish. Close to archaelogist Louis Delaporte, he studied Khmer art, and worked on illustrations of Angkor Thom restoration works in the 1880s.
Stimulated by contemporary discoveries in Southeast Asia and South America, working closely with the Ethnography Museum of Trocadéro (Paris), Soldi explored the origins of what was still called 'primitive arts', gathering his views in the sum 'Les Arts méconnus' (Únsung Arts'). Truth to his time, he was drawn to symbolism and esoterism, publishing essays such as 'La Langue sacrée. Le mystère de la création (Paris, Heymann, 1897), 'L'arbre de la science : origine de l'écriture et de l'alphabet' (Paris, E. Leroux, 1900), 'Les armes magiques (Paris, E. Leroux, 1903).
Acquainted with the great explorers and travelers of his times, he sculpted in 1879 a portrait of the famous explorer Madame Ujfalvy.
'Indian Woman from Puno', Soldi's drawing from a sculpture brought by explorer Wiener from Peru to Trocadéro Museum, Paris.
Soldi's portrait by Marcellin Duboutin (source:gallica.fr)