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Model - David

David

  • Object:

    Model

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    probably 1889 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mercié, Antonin, born 1845 - died 1916 (sculptor)
    Barbedienne, Ferdinand, born 1810 - died 1892 (founder)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bronze

  • Museum number:

    92-1890

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Marius-Jean-Antonin Mercié studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and won the Grand Prize of Rome at the age of 23. This meant he could study in Italy where he encountered the great works of the Renaissance. During his stay from 1869 to 1873, he produced his most important sculpture 'David Vainqueur': David victorious after the battle with Goliath. Described as 'neo-Florentine' by contemporaries, it vies with the celebrated Davids of the 1400s by Donatello and Verrocchio. David's sinewy physique contrasts with the smooth forms of conventionally neo-classical nudes, while his turban recalls the exoticism of contemporary paintings of Middle Eastern subjects. This bronze combines a debt to the Renaissance, in its depiction of David with such a skilled composition and grace, with a vibrant modernity.

Mercié sent the plaster model to the Paris Salon in 1872 where it won a first class medal and was a huge success. The subject resonated with the French public which, after defeat by Prussia in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, could take heart from the image of David's defeat of the giant Goliath against all the odds. A bronze version of the statue was commissioned by the State in 1872 and put in the Musée du Luxembourg - the Musée des Artistes Vivants - in 1874. Numerous smaller replicas were produced by founders such as Barbedienne, which produced a miniature version in six different sizes. This is one of those Barbedienne casts.

Physical description

Statuette, bronze, David sheathing his sword after decapitating Goliath.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

probably 1889 (made)

Artist/maker

Mercié, Antonin, born 1845 - died 1916 (sculptor)
Barbedienne, Ferdinand, born 1810 - died 1892 (founder)

Materials and Techniques

Bronze

Dimensions

Depth: 92 cm, Width: 22 cm base, Width: 46 cm maximum, Depth: 28 cm base, Depth: 31 cm maximum

Descriptive line

Model of David, bronze, by Mercié, cast by Barbedienne, probably 1889, Paris

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

List of Objects in the Art Division South Kensington Museum acquired during the Year 1890. Arranged according to the dates of acquisition, with appendix and indices. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1891. pp. 11
Read, B. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven. 1982. pp. 308, pl. 368

Labels and date

Bronze Figure: 'David'
About 1889
Shown at the International Exhibition, Paris, 1900.

This is a scaled-down replica of a 'David' that Mercié exhibited to great acclaim at the 1872 Paris Salon. Following the exhibition, the State bought a full-size bronze and founders such as Barbedienne made numerous smaller replicas. Described as 'neo-Florentine' by contemporaries, Mercié's 'David' vies with the celebrated Davids of the Italian Renaissance, those by Donatello and Verrocchio especially. [31/03/2017]
'American and European Art and Design 1800-1900'

The plaster model of the David was acclaimed at the 1872 Paris Salon and, following the State purchase of a full size bronze, numerous smaller replicas were produced by founders such as Barbedienne. Described as 'neo-Florentine' by contemporaries, it vies with the celebrated Davids of the 1400s by Donatello and Verrochio. David's sinewy physique contrasts with the smooth forms of conventionally neo-classical nudes, while his turban recalls the exoticism of contemporary paintings of Middle Eastern subjects. Admired in England, Mercié's David inspired Alfred Gilbert's statuettes of male nudes. []

Categories

Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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