PIGALLE, Jean-Baptiste
(b. 1714, Paris, d. 1785, Paris)

Mercury Tying his Sandal

Marble, height 58 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The marble statue was presented to the Academy in 1742 as Pigalle's morceau de reception, and became instantly famous. It was Pigalle's first tremendous success, in fact, the most successful ever in the Academy's history. He received a royal command for large-scale marble versions of this and its pendant, a Venus which the king was to dispatch to Frederick the Great.

All Pigalle's art seems concentrated in this. There is a concentration of form, allied with the concentrated pose, Mercury is the perfect allegory of speed and power, the expression of all those qualities associated with Mercury. The action of tying the sandal hardly matters; what is supremely summed up in the work is a sense of coiled power.