MARIUS-JEAN-ANTONIN MERCIÉ [after]
Burnish and gilt patinated bronze | Conceived 1882, cast after 1910 | Signed in cast "A. Mercie", "F. Barbedienne Fondeur, Paris" and sealed with A. Collas cachet
Item # 110OPX22S
A powerful patriotic tribute to Thiers and a celebration of the resistance of the city of Belfort during the Fraco-Prussian War of 1870, the spirit of Belfort and all of France is memorialized in this image of a proud woman in Alsatian garb standing square against the enemy. She is unfazed by the soldier fallen against her body. Without removing her eyes from the enemy, she succeeds the soldier by taking his Model 1866 "Chassepot" rifle and readies herself for combat. The image struck a chord with the French public and similar inspiration was found in the work of Mercie's contemporaries; for example La Défense de Paris (1883) by Louis Ernest Barrias captures a similar composition in its memorialization of the citizens who defended Paris.
The model was exhibited in plaster at the Salon of 1882 and again the following year at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts. A marble version was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in 1900, that example now in the permanent collection of the Musée d'Orsay. A bronze version acquired by Belfort was errected at the Place d'Armes and another example in bronze cast by Barbedienne is in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Valenciennes. Other castings include the model at the Pasteur Museum, Paris, the Unterlinden Museum of Colmar and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The present casting was executed by the Ferdinand Barbedienne foundry during the first quarter of the 20th century and finished in a nuanced burnished bronze patina with hints of medium-brown. It is signed on the emblem cast aside on the terrace "A. Mercie" and is incised by the foundry "F. Barbedienne Fondeur, Paris" "66" and is sealed with the A. Collas reduction cachet. It is a later cast from the first quarter of the 20th century and lacks the finer texture and chiseled detail of earlier models, but the scarcity and very large dimensions make it an admirable acquisition nonetheless.
Measurements: 33 1/4" H x 15" D x 17" W
Condition Report: Grime in crevices. Seams where feet and elements touch the base are unpolished. Nuanced patina with variation in surface throughout. Light abrasions and surface dings to outer elements (her arm, the rifle, etc.).