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
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.
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.