Gloria Victis

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Gloria Victis by Mercié

Gloria Victis ("glory to the vanquished") is a sculpture by Antonin Mercié. Created in 1874, the sculpture as pictured is seen at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Another copy of the statue can be found in Bordeaux, France, where it faces Saint André's Cathedral. Mercié designed this sculpture following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. He intended to honor those French soldiers who had fallen in the conflict, especially his friend, the artist Henri Regnault (1843-1871). Upon France's defeat Mercié changed the hero's head from lifted to fallen.

A winged female allegorical image of Fame (or of Hope) carries to glory a dying French hero, his broken sword a sign of defeat. Mercié's original plaster sculpture won a medal at the 1874 Paris Salon. Bronze copies were cast in different sizes by the great foundry of Ferdinand Barbedienne.