An impressive late 19th Century Art Nouveau bronze study of the victorious David, the young hero portrayed lifting the vast sword of Goliath into it’s oversized scabbard, his foot still perched on the giant’s head. Signed A Mercié stamped with Collas Mechaniquepastille and inscribed F Barbedienne Fondeur
Height: 74 cm
Condition: Excellent Original Condition
Foundry: F Barbedienne
Book Ref Bronzes of the 19th Century by Pierre Kjellberg
Page no. 488
David Vainqueur also known as David After the Combat earned Mercié a First Class Medal and the Croix de la Légion d’Honneur. making him the only artist to receive it whilst still a student. A casting was commissioned by the French State and exhibited at the 1873 World Exhibition. An example of this inspirational work is today to be found in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
The 1870 war and France’s defeat left French society feeling humiliated and longing for revenge. This state of mind made ‘David Vainqueur’ appear to be the promise of a France that would one day, despite its weakness, slay the Prussian Goliath, like the young Israeli shepherd who, armed only with a sling, brought down the enemy giant. So the sculpture was an instant success: the plaster model executed in Rome, where the young artist was finishing his training, earned him the Legion of Honour, and a bronze version was commissioned by the State in 1872 and put in the Musée du Luxembourg – the Musée des Artistes Vivants – in 1874. It was soon one of the commonest images in illustrated magazines and was so popular that a miniature version, in six different sizes, was cast by Barbedienne.
‘David Vainqueur’ is one of Mercié’s most famous and most treasured works and was cast by the Barbedienne foundry in numerous edition sizes, five of which are noted in their 1886 catalog – 110, 93, 73, 46 and 29.5 cm. The original sculpture, cast in life size for the 1872 Salon at a height of 185cm (72.5″) is held by Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
Bronzes: Sculptors and Founders vol I, Berman, p. 157 & 159
The Bronzes of the 19th Century: Dictionary of Sculptors, Kjellberg, p. 488-91
Bronzes d’Art F. Barbedienne, Paris (1886 edition), p. 48
Art Bronzes, Forrest, p. 44-46, p. 479
The Romantics to Rodin: French Nineteenth-Century Sculpture, Fusco and Janson, p. 303-4