The Algerian Onyx - not to be confused with onyx, a variety of agate - is a kind of "marble" used in Europe in the second half of the 19th century after the onyx quarries in Algeria were rediscovered in 1849 by Jean Baptiste Del Monte, a Carrara marble manufacturer, during archaeological excavations.
From then onyx is used to make works of art, clocks and sculptures as the creations of the Company of Algerian Onyx marbles which will be very appreciated during the World’s Fair of 1878. During the Second Empire, several sculptors will also use onyx, such as Charles Cordier and his famous series called "Negros".
More rarely, because of its very high cost, the onyx will be used for luxurious interior architectural elements such as the handrail of the large staircase in the Opera House in Paris or some of the sumptuous decorations of the Hôtel de la Païva in Paris, named after the socialite who built it from 1856 to 1865 on the Champs-Elysées.
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