NICOLAS MAYER (FRENCH, 1852-1939) BRONZE SCULPTURE OF "UN DUEL"
Signed in base "N. Mayer 1887"
Item # 706PNS24A
This exceptional casting of Un Duel is Mayer’s most recognizable work, the group capturing a pair of fencers facing off in a moment of intense combat. The lack of protective gear differentiates the scene from a sporting subject, as there is clearly much at stake on the outcome of this duel. Both figures are totally focused and maintain flawless form as one thrusts and the other parries. The realism is flawless, both figures perfectly captured in a moment of complex action that can often be very difficult for the sculptor to accurately depict. But most notable is the incredible casting quality of the work - the chiseling and surface detailing is simply superior, every aspect of the moment satisfactorily rendered. The naturalistic base indicates the two are fighting outdoors, this mottled ground cast with the signature and date of the artist.
Born in Paris in 1852, Nicolas Mayer studied under Cordier and produced a body of orientalism in the same manner as his tutor. He commonly worked in both marble and bronze, often joining both for effect. The present example of Un Duel was exhibited in plaster at the Salon des Artistes Française in 1887, for which he received honourable mention. He continued to exhibit at Salon and eventually achieved membership in 1904.
- Bronzes of the Nineteenth Century: Dictionary of Sculptors, Pierre Kjellberg, 1994, p. 467
- E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Gründ, 2006, vol. IX, p. 615
- Bronzes: Sculptors & Founders 1800-1930, Berman, 1977, f. 2302, p. 621 [sculpture of L’Aurore, present example not pictured]
Measurements: 19 3/6” W (from hand to hand); 16” W (base only) x 4 3/8” D x 9 3/4” H
Sword repaired at some point. Otherwise exceptional condition.