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  • Antonin Mercie (French, 1845-1916) Antique Bronze Sculpture "David Vainqueur"

Antonin Mercie (French, 1845-1916) Antique Bronze Sculpture "David Vainqueur"

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Antonin Mercie (French, 1845-1916) Fine Antique Bronze Sculpture of "David Vainqueur"
Numbered 875, F. Barbedienne, Paris Foundry w/ Collas Reduction Seal
Item # 130112LWP15

Also known as "David with the Head of Goliath", this very fine sculpture not only won a first class medal but also resulted in Mercie being honored with the Cross of the Legion of Honor, the only artist ever to receive this distinction while still a student at the French Academy in Rome. Documented extensively, this is one of his most famous and most treasured works and was cast by Barbedienne in six different sizes, five of which are offered in their 1886 catalog - 110, 92, 73, 46 and 29.5 cm. The present example is referred to in their catalog as "La Reduction no. 4" with a noted height of 46cm and base length of 11cm. 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; other examples held by museum include a 69 cm example at Montpellier and a 70 cm example at Troyes.

Exceedingly attractive, the sculpture exhibits a realism of a nearly photographic dimension. The young David is portrayed scantily clad only in a simple loincloth, lifting the vast sword of Goliath into it's oversized sheath as he has just parted the head from it's body, his foot still disrespectfully perched in Goliath's eye. The form exudes a certain carefree and relaxed demeanor, not exemplifying a warrior who has just defeated a man two or three times his size, but rather a cool air of confidence having done a significant deed. Goliath's head is breached just above his right eye where the stone of David's sling struck him. David's handsome and clean appearance is a stark contrast to the course and unkempt appearance of his fallen foe.

Retaining a very well preserved dark brown and green patina, the sculpture is marked "Reduction Mechanique Collas Brevete", having been reduced in size from the 185cm original using the method of inventor Achille Collas; along the rim "875 F. Barbedienne, Fondeur Paris" is stamped and the front of the circular base reads "David" in Hebrew. The chased and filed finish work is exceptional, as is the case with most work from the F. Barbedienne foundry.


  • 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

Measurements: 17 1/2" high x approximately 10" total width; base diameter 4 9/16" x 4 7/16"

Condition Report:
Excellent condition with very minor patina wear in form of tiny scratches. No noteworthy flaws. Patina in fine preserved condition under wax.