“Le Soldat de Marathon” by Jean-Pierre Cortot
“Le Soldat Marathon” monumental French bronze sculpture by Jean-Pierre Cortot (French, 1787–1843) cast by Ferdinand Barbedienne, Fondeur.
Le Soldat de Marathon annonçant la victoire (“The Soldier of Marathon announcing the Victory”). Marble, 1834 (first exhibited at the Salon of 1822).
This is a fine antique bronze sculpture of the Greek soldier Phidippides who ran the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce the news of a great Greek battle victory. This heroic event has since given birth to the famous marathon race, the length of which is equal to the distance from Marathon to Athens. Jean-Pierre Cortot (French, 1787-1843) chose to depict the moment when the weary soldier collapses onto the ground atop his shield and sword. In a final burst of pride, he raises his chest and brandishes the palm of victory aloft. The sculpture is widely regarded as one of the highest accomplishments of depicting the classic athletic male figure.
Soldier of Marathon (also known in French as Le Soldat de Marathon Annoncant la Victoire and by the Latin inscription Soldate Spartiate) was first sculpted in marble by Cortot expressly for the palace of King Louis-Philippe. The original is now one of the treasures of the Louvre Museum in Paris. This casting was made in the 19th century by the famed Barbedienne foundry. The patina finish is a classic traditional brown. Soldier of Marathon has been issued in many sizes, some larger sizes have been sold at auction for $10,000 to $30,000. This small version measures 10″ high by 10 1/2″ wide by 5 1/2″ deep. The number “81” is carved on the underside.
Ferdinand Barbedienne, started his career as a dealer in wallpaper in Paris. In 1838 he went into partnership with Achille Collas (1795-1859), who had just invented a machine to create miniature bronze replicas of statues. Together they started a business selling miniatures of antique statues from museums all over Europe, thus democratising art and making it more accessible to households. From 1843 they extended their scope by reproducing the work of living artists and also diversified by making enamelled household objects. With the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 the firm briefly had to switch to cannon founding owing to the shortage of metals but resumed business afterwards. Among the principal artists reproduced by the firm were Antoine Louis Barve and Auguste Rodin.