Antonin Mercié, born in Toulouse on October 29, 1845 and died in Paris on December 13, 1916, is a French sculptor and painter.
Antonin Mercié joined the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where his teachers were Alexandre Falguière and François Jouffroy. He won the Prix de Rome in sculpture of 1868.
With Jean-Marie Mengue, Laurent Marqueste3, Victor Segoffin and Auguste Seysses among others, he is part of the “group of Toulouse”.
His first big successes are David and Gloria Victis, presented at the Paris Salon of 1872, where they receive the medal of honor. David’s bronze is one of his best-known works. The hero of the Bible is shown with Goliath’s head at his feet, like Donatello’s David, he sheaths his sword. With the war of 1870 and the defeat of the country, French society is won by a sense of humiliation and the desire for revenge. Such a state of mind shows in this David the promise of a France that one day will defeat, despite its weakness, the Prussian Goliath, like the young shepherd of Israel who, with the help of his slingshot, shot down the enemy giant. So the sculpture immediately had an immense success: the plaster executed in Rome, where the young artist finished his training, earned him the Legion of Honor, and was commissioned in bronze by the State in 1872, then placed in the Luxembourg museum – the museum of living artists – from 1874.
At the turn of 1870, Antonin Mercié embodies the younger generation of French sculptors who wish to give, in the heart of a classical teaching, a more vibrant expression to their figures. He seeks this alliance between scholarly composition and nervous modeling in the great models of the Florentine Renaissance: hence the large and beautiful curves of the arm extended by the movement of the sword, the bent leg, the grace of the movement of David which invites the spectator to turn around the different planes that gradually modulate the space. Between modern classicism and explicit realism, Mercié finds an original way.
The Maison Barbedienne has produced a bronze edition of one hundred copies.
The sculpture is signed A. Mercié at the base and it has the seal of the Barbedienne foundry.
Height cm 93
Max width cm 32
Diameter cm 23