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Lot 277: Marius Jean Antonin Mercié (French, 1845-1916), "A
Early Spring Estates Auction
March 27, 2010
New Orleans, LA, USA
Description: Marius Jean Antonin Mercié (French, 1845-1916), "A Bacchante Toying with the Young Pan", a carved white marble figural group depicting a life-sized bacchante teasing the young faun who pleads for his reed pipe, a lion cub at his side, signed "a. Mercie" on base, raised on a carved marble pedestal, figural group height 54 in., width 40 in., pedestal height 37 in., overall height 91 in.
Notes: Note: One of the most accomplished and admired sculptors of his day, Mercie was known for his monumental, complex scenes. In this depiction of a Classical vignette, he reveals his skill with multi-figural compositions. The gently twisting figure of the bacchante creates a sense of vibrancy and movement while the frolicking lion cub at the feet of the figures adds an unexpected and quixotic element of playfulness. This pervading air of lightheartedness is testament to the skill and aptitude of the sculptor; such a mood is not often easy to achieve successfully in marble. A recipient of the prestigious Grand Prix de Rome in 1868, Mercie received his initial training at l¹Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris under the influential Alexandre Flaguiere (1831-1900) and the innovative Francois Jouffroy (1806-1882). His entry at the Paris Salon of 1872 "David Victorious" won him a first place medal and the attention of the Legion d¹Honneur, which awarded him a cross and a medal; Mercie was one of the few sculptors to eventually attain the rank of Grand Officer within the Legion. A popular teacher and instructor, he was appointed Professor of Drawing and Sculpture at the École des Beaux Arts, and was elected a member of the Academie Francaise in 1891. In 1913 he was named president of the Societe des Artistes Francais. Reference: Benezit. Dictionnaire des Peintres, Librairie Grund, 1976, vol. VII, pp. 339, 340.