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Lot 138: MARIUS-JEAN-ANTONIN MERCIÉ FRENCH, 1845-1916
European Sculpture & Works of Art 900-1900
December 10, 2004
London, United Kingdom
signed: A. Mercié inscribed F. BARBEDIENNE, Fondeur Paris
bronze, rich dark brown and gilt patinas mounted on an artificial stone column in two sections
Mercié was studying at the French Academy in Rome when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870. It is said that he originally modelled the group with Fame supporting a victorious warrior, but on learning of France's defeat, made the substitution of a dying warrior with a broken sabre. Indeed, the figure is believed to represent Mercié's fellow sculptor, Henri Rigault, who was killed on the last day of the war. The piece was entitled Gloria victis! as a rejoinder to the ancient motto Vae victis! The present bronze is distinguished one of the largest known casts to come to auction. A large 140cm. version was sold in these rooms 29 November 1991, lot 144 for £27,500.
RELATED LITERATURE Romantics to Rodin pp.303-06
Provenance: THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
Dimensions: bronze: 188.5cm., 74 1/4 in. base: 65cm., 25 1/2 in.