Mercury Statue

Mercury Statue, Paris, Public Art

Public Art : Mercury statue ; also known as Mecury Riding Pegasus and The Horse of Marly.

Sculptor : © Antoine Coysevox (September 29th, 1640 – October 10th, 1720)

Description :  A Carrara marble sculpture of Mercury sitting side-saddle on his winged horse, Pegasus, rearing above military trophies which represent the King Louis XIV victories. The trophies include  a shield evoking the Spanish Succession, with Minerva (the goddess of war) presenting the portrait of Philip V to the Spanish people.

Period : Rococo

Unveiled : The Mercury and Fame group were unveiled in 1702.

Location : Originally the Mercury and Fame group were erected on either side of the upper part of the horse pond at the entrance to Château de Marly in Paris, France. However, in 1719 they were moved to the west entrance of the Tuileries Gardens. Much later, in 1986, the original statues were replaced by copies and then relocated to the Louve. 

History : Following the signing of the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 prosperity once again returned to France and with prosperity came spending. Lots of spending. Louis XIV appointed the Superintendent of Buildings, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, to commission statues for the park at the Château de Marly. One of the lucky sculptors was Antoine Coysevox who was asked to sculpt two equestrain statues to stand either side of the horse pond at the entrance to the park. Coysevox chose Fame (wealth) and Mercury (divine messenger and god of trade) to sit astride the winged horse Pegasus (symbol of poerty),  a symbolic gesture for the King no doubt.

Trivia :

The statues were sculpted from monolithic blocks of marble with no joins, an amazing feat not achieved by a sculptor before in France.

Napoleon is said to have been delighted that Coysevox chose to give the horse of Mercury a bridle, but not that of Fame.

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