The Wonderful and Exceptional Late 19th Century Bronze Figural Sculpture Entitled “Gloria Victis” by Mercié and Barbedienne
Item # VB73
Antonin Mercié and Ferdinand Barbedienne
Bronze, mid-brown patina with gilt highlights, raised on a Levanto Rouge marble revolving pedestal.
Signed A. Mercié and inscribed F Barbedienne Fondeur Paris to the base.
The Gloria Victis sculpture group was executed shortly after the Franco-Prussian War and, while Marius-Jean-Antonin Mercié initially planned to depict Fame and a triumphant soldier, the victor was replaced with a defeated soldier following France’s surrender. Replicas of this iconic composition were used on monuments commemorating the war in many French towns, including Niort, Deux-Sèvres, Agen, and Bordeaux. Barbedienne has cast this model in six sizes, of which the present lot is the third largest.
Antonin Mercié was one of the most successful French sculptors of his generation, and as early as 1868 he was awarded the Prix de Rome, soon followed by accolades such as the cross of the Légion d’honneur, the Medal of Honor at the 1874 Salon (for his Gloria Victis sculpture group), and the Grand Prix at the 1878 Exposition Universelle. In 1900, he became a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris (where he studied in addition to the Académie de France in Rome) and in 1913 he was made President of the Société des Artistes Français.
The Barbedienne foundry employed up to three hundred skilled labourers, handling the casting of numerous national monuments and architectural schemes. Ferdinand Barbedienne himself also took an active part in the promotion of contemporary sculpture and became one of the founders for Davis d’Angers’ medallions as well as much of Rude’s sculpture. His signature varied from hand written capitals to stamp in capitals, usually ‘F. Barbedienne, Fondeur’ or ‘BARBEDIENNE PARIS’. In 1839 Barbedienne collaborated with the inventor Achille Collas who had succeeded in enlarging and reducing works of art to arbitrary sizes by a simple mathematical calculation, allowing the accurate reduction of classical and contemporary marbles for the purpose of reproduction in bronze. In 1850 Barbedienne was commissioned to furnish the Paris town hall for which he was awarded with the ‘medaille d’ honneur’ at the Paris World Exhibition in 1855.
Height – 56 inches / 142cm
Width – 33 inches / 84cm
Depth – 25 inches / 64cm
Height – 37.5 inches / 95cm