One of the most successful French sculptors of his generation, Mercié studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at the Académie de France in Rome. As early as 1868 he was awarded the Prix de Rome which was soon followed by numerous outstanding achievements, such as the cross of the Légion d'honneur, the Medal of Honor at the 1874 Salon for his Gloria Victis sculpture group, and the Grand Prix at the 1878 Exposition Universelle. In 1900, he became a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts and in 1913 he was made President of the Société des Artistes Français.
The GLORIA VICTIS sculpture group was executed shortly following the Franco-Prussian War. Initially, Mercié planned the group to consist of Fame and a victorious soldier but following France's surrender, the victorious figure was replaced with a defeated soldier. Replicas of this classic composition were used on monuments to the dead of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 in many French towns, including Niort, Deux-Sèvres, Agen and Bordeaux.
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