Mythological French Bronze Sculpture “Departure of Hermes” signed Raymond Sudre

French bronze sculpture “Departure of Hermes” signed Raymond Sudre

This heroic French bronze sculpture by Raymond Sudre depicts the mythological subject of Hermes (or Mercury in Roman mythology) adjusting his sandal. It features Hermes, messenger of the gods, with his caduceus in his right hand bending down to adjust his winged sandal. Hermes is portrayed here as an athletic young man wearing a winged hat, winged shoes and holding a caduceus.

The shepherd’s flute and the sword on the base refer to the time that Hermes used his flute to play a tune which caused Argus to feel asleep. When Argus was sound asleep, Mercury cut of Argus’s head. Subsequently Mercury put his sandals back on to go back up to mount Olympus in order to rejoin the other gods.

Our sculpture of Hermes is set on a round green “vert-de-mer” marble base. It carries the signature “SUDRE PARIS”  and the mark of the bronze foundry Pinedo in Paris. Emile Pinedo (1840-1916) initially worked as an apprentice in his father’s foundry, taking over the business in 1865.

The design of this antique bronze sculpture is harmonious in form and composition. It  has an attractive light brown coloured patina and is in an excellent condition.

Artistic inspiration

The Story about Hermes and Argus has inspired artists since several millennia. A well known example is the antique statuette : “Hermes Adjusting his Sandal”, formerly known as “Cincinnatus”, a Roman copy of a Greek original of c. 4 B.C. The original marble is housed in the Louvre Museum, in Paris. A more recent example from the 19th century is the bronze by François Rude (Dijon 1784 – Paris 1855) titled “Mercury reattaching its heels” (see last photo). This bronze is also in the collection of the Louvre museum (inventory number LP 263).

    Dimensions of this bronze sculpture “Departure of Hermes”

    Height 74 cm, diameter 22 cm.
    Weight 14,2 kg.

    Mythology of Hermes and Argos

    When Zeus fell in love with the beautiful nymph Io, his wife Hera gradually became jealous. To protect Io from Hera’s jealousy, Zeus turned her into a cow. Hera, however, realized this and ordered Zeus to give her the cow as a present, whereupon she gave the cow to the shepherd Argos. Argos was a giant with a hundred eyes, and even when he slept he had two eyes left to keep watch over his flock. Then Zeus ordered the clever Hermes to free Io. After a short chat with Argos, Hermes played a tune on his flute, so soporific that even the last two eyes of Argos closed. Hermes then cut off Argos’ head and freed Io.

    Raymond Sudre (1870-1962)

    Raymond Sudre, born in Perpignan in 1870, is the son of a marble worker, from whom he learns to work with stone. He moved to Paris to enter the École des beaux-arts, where he became a pupil of the sculptor Alexandre Falguière, then after the latter’s death, of Antonin Mercié.


    • Bonhams London, where a version of this sculpture appeared in auction on 9 December 2010.

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