probably 1889 (made)

Mercié, Marcus-Jean-Antoine

Depth: 92 cm, Width: 22 cm base, Width: 46 cm maximum, Depth: 28 cm base, Depth: 31 cm maximum

92-1890 SCP

Model of David, bronze, by Mercié, founded by Barbedienne, probably 1889, Paris

Statuette, bronze, David sheathing his sword after decapitating Goliath.

Marius-Jean-Antonin Mercié studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and won the Grand Prize of Rome at the age of 23. This meant he could study in Italy where he encountered the great works of the Renaissance. During his stay from 1869 to 1873, he produced his most important sculpture 'David Vainqueur': David victorious after the battle with Goliath. Described as 'neo-Florentine' by contemporaries, it vies with the celebrated Davids of the 1400s by Donatello and Verrocchio. David's sinewy physique contrasts with the smooth forms of conventionally neo-classical nudes, while his turban recalls the exoticism of contemporary paintings of Middle Eastern subjects. This bronze combines a debt to the Renaissance, in its depiction of David with such a skilled composition and grace, with a vibrant modernity. Mercié sent the plaster model to the Paris Salon in 1872 where it won a first class medal and was a huge success. The subject resonated with the French public which, after defeat by Prussia in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, could take heart from the image of David's defeat of the giant Goliath against all the odds. A bronze version of the statue was commissioned by the State in 1872 and put in the Musée du Luxembourg - the Musée des Artistes Vivants - in 1874. Numerous smaller replicas were produced by founders such as Barbedienne, which produced a miniature version in six different sizes. This is one of those Barbedienne casts.

Location: Europe & America 1800-1900, room 101, case 5

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