Mercury (Depart de Mercure)
Signed SUDRE PARIS, with a brass plaque inscribed Depart de Mercure/Prix de Concours/Ecole des Beaux-Arts Paris
Bronze with a rich mid brown patination
Height: 38 inches (97 cm)
Conceived and cast circa 1910
Sudre’s Depart de Mercure closely echoes Flying Mercury by Giambologna (1529–1608), and can be seen as part of the artist’s broader fascination with late Renaissance or Mannerist sculpture. This interest was not exclusive to Sudre, but was rather shared by a number of French sculptors working during the same period who aimed to revisit the grace, naturalism and elegance of 15th and 16th century Renaissance Florentine.
Paul Dubois is often credited with this re-emergence of interest after his work Florentine Singer was referred to as Neo-Florentine at the Salon of 1865. The sculpture of this period also influenced the work of the great British sculptor Alfred Gilbert, whose Perseus Arming (1882) included the same mannerist twist in its modeling.
Sudre first exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1894. Amongst his numerous awards, he was awarded the Prix de Rome from the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1900, and was made Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur in 1914. Perhaps his most notable work, upon which he collaborated with Vizzavona François Antoine, is the Regalade Montana, first exhibited in marble at the Salon (1909) and now on public display in Perpignan, where he was born.
Sudre’s Mercury omits the ‘petasus’ or sun hat worn by Mercury in Giambologna’s version but clearly shows homage to the earlier model and the influence of the Renaisance on the artist.
Mercury is depicted here holding a caduceus, a staff given to him by the sun god Apollo. The object came to symbolise Mercury himself, and by extension his activities not only as a messenger, but also as a god of trade.
Vizzavona François Antoine and Raymond Sudre, Regalade Montana
Giambologna, Mercury, bronze, 1580, Bargello National Museum, Florence.