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  • Antonin Mercie (French, 1845-1916) Bronze Sculpture, "David Avant Le Combat"
  • Antique French Bronze Sculpture of David by Antonin Mercie
  • Antonin Mercié Bronze Sculpture of David Avant le Combat
  • David Avant le Combat by Antonin Mercie
  • Antonin Mercie (French, 1845-1916) Bronze Sculpture, "David Avant Le Combat"
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Antonin Mercie (French, 1845-1916) Bronze Sculpture, "David Avant Le Combat"

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"David Avant Le Combat"

Paris c. 1895 in the 31 1/2" (81 cm) edition
Impressed "F. Barbedienne Fondeur Paris" and signed "Mercie" on naturalistic base
Item # 130209ZKT20

This is an exceedingly attractive work by Antonin Mercié exhibiting commanding proportions and presence.  Retaining a warm brown patina, the sculpture captures a certain innocence and confidence of a warrior in the making.  The subject is that of David preparing for combat with Goliath, his sling wrapped around wrist with his fingers grasping the stone that would eventually down the giant.

Cast in several editions, this is one of the largest versions; it is noted in Berman vol. I with 31 1/2" being the original edition by F. Barbedienne.  Smaller editions were reduced by the A. Colas procedure, these usually sealed with the accompanying stamp.  It was sculpted by Mercié in his early 30's, at which point he was already a famous sculptor.  Having exhibited his Gloria Victis in plaster at the Salon in 1874 and in bronze in 1875, both years with extraordinary success, David Avant Le Combat was introduced to the public in 1876 (no. 3477) as a sculpture in marble.

In the original catalog of Barbedienne, this cast illustrated on page 48, it notes:

"Grandeur de l'original ...... 500
[h. 0.8 cm; l. 0.27 cm; p. 0.29 cm]

These original pricing details are reflected in black ink period script on the bottom of the sculpture, where scrawled on the crossbar it reads "96203 / oro / 500".  

The detail captured in the subject is quite wonderful, with each wrinkle and edge of the fingers and nails filed with precision and finished with great care.  The hand chasing and patina are typical of work by the Barbedienne foundry during the late years of the 19th century, quite fine as always and with wonderful overall effect.  This is a very fine acquisition for any serious collector of fine bronze sculptures.  Rather rare in it's large edition, this cast immediately becomes the focal point of whatever room it joins.  Clearly an investment quality piece.

Noteworthy Sales:

  • Christies [Sale 1649, Lot 88, April 2006], $9,600; 18 1/2" edition
  • Budapest Auction, $6,000; 18 1/2" edition


  • Catalaogue des Bronze D'Art F. Barbedienne, Chicago, 1886, p. 48 (illustrated)
  • Bronzes, Sculptors & Founders 1800-1930H. Berman, Chicago, 1980, vol. IV, p. 904, no. 3451 (another cast illustrated)
  • Bronzes of the 19th Century, DIctionary of Sculptors, Pierre Kjellberg, p. 448-449

Measurements:  31 1/2" high (81.28 cm) x 14" wide (horn to elbow) x 11 3/4" depth