Gloria Victis (sculpture)

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Gloria Victis
Mercie-gloria-victis new.jpg
A casting in Washington, DC
Artist Antonin Mercié
Year 1874
Type Bronze

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. A third copy can be found at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark, where the statue overlooks the museum's Winter Garden. 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.

Its uplifting reassurance that those defeated were nevertheless cared for and granted immortality[1] made this work well received among the French public, who felt humiliated after losing the war.[2]

Despite its acclaim, the work was harshly criticized by fellow French sculptor Jean Baffier for its neoclassical style and for its celebration of a defeat:

"We have been beaten like wheat in a barn, and we shouted: 'Glory to the losers' – And along comes some sort of bastard artist, the pupil of a sexless school, to put up the image of our cowardice."[3]

Belfort memorial, a comparable piece by Mercié

Mercié returned to this formula of a female allegorical figure with a soldier in his 1882 Belfort war memorial (nicknamed Quand même, or "Still").[3]





Ferdinand Barbedienne produced several bronze versions in seven different sizes. Examples can be found at:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines de l'Université de Clermont-Ferrand II. Nouvelle série (in French). Presses Univ. Blaise-Pascal. p. 563. ISSN 0397-3352. [...] transmettant ce message salutaire que leur défaite ne retire rien aux vaincus de leur droit à l'immortalité 
  2. ^ Thurber, T. Barton (2008). European Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-58465-738-5. [...] greeted with acclaim and perceived by the public as a response to France's humiliating defeat by Germany 
  3. ^ a b McWilliam, Neil. Monumental Intolerance: Jean Baffier, a Nationalist Sculptor in Fin-de-Siècle France. Penn State Press. pp. 83–84. ISBN 0-271-04394-6.