Marius Jean Antonin Mercié (French, 1845 ~ 1916) Antonin Mercié was born in Toulouse on October 30th 1845. He studied under Jouffroy and Falguière at the École des Beaux-Arts and won the Grand Prize of Rome at the age of 23. This entitled him to study in Italy and during his stay from 1869 to 1873 he produced his most important sculpture David Vainqueur. He sent this figure to the Paris Salon in 1872 where it immediately won a first class medal. In addition he was given the distinction of being the first artist to receive the Cross of the Legion d’Honneur whilst still in Rome, making him unique in the annals of the villa Medicis. Early success in his career brought a number of private and public commissions and he produced a large amount of monuments and ornamental sculptures from his studios. He also regularly exhibited at the Salon until 1912 in both bronze and marble. In 1880 Antonin Mercié began to practice painting as well, but it was his work as a sculptor that continued to collect the most distinctions and honours. He joined the institute in 1891 and was named president of the Societé des Artistes Français in 1913 and became one of the few sculptors to attain the rank of Grand Officer in the Legion d’Honneur. In his works can be seen a certain sensitivity to lifelike qualities of movement, a veritable exuberance common to the group of artists from the Southwest sometimes called the School of Toulouse (Ècole de Toulouse).