FRANCE La Fraternite Des Artistes 1914 Brotherhood of Artists WWI 54.7mm x 81mm bronze plaque 136 grams by C. Mercié
Obverse: lady giving aid to a devastated family with an artist's palette resting on the ground. In the background a cathedral to the left and billowing smoke to the right, LA FRATERNITE DES ARTISTES 1914
Reverse: MR. LOCHELONGUE
Edge: Corucopia privy mark (Paris Mint) BRONZE
Charles Mercié Gantrago was a Spanish French artist who flourished around the later 19th century through early 20th century. He was born in Madrid and later moved to Paris, where he exhibited figures and portraits at the Salon from 1881 onwards.
This piece was presented to a Mr Lochelongue, and I would speculate that was Victor Valery Lochelongue, (1870-1930) a French etcher of copper plate etchings (drypoint), primarily of scenes of Paris. He was born in Saint-Maurice (Seine), and was taught by the etcher Eugene Charrot. He exhibited his etchings at the Salon des Artistes Francais from 1906. In the early part of his career it appears he produced only monochromatic (black/white) etchings signed “V Lochelongue”, but soon enough he turned to polychromatic etching.
In 2014 the Christies auction house offered a similar gilt bronze medal that had been awarded to a US senator. It fetched $US2750. plus the auction fees
La Fraternité Des Artistes (Trans: Brotherhood of Artists) was an organisation that was setup as a relief fund for the families of French soldier - artists. In the United States a showing held in January of 1916 at the Ritz Carlton Ballroom, New York, was arranged through the Ministry of Fine Arts and La Fraternité des Artistes, Paris, for the Fund for the Families of French Soldier-Artists. Its focus was the immediate giving of aid. Members of the Fraternité des Artistes sent works to America to be shown. The proceeds from the exhibitions were donated to the families of French artists who were fighting in the war. The choice to aid the families of artists, rather than other soldiers, was stated in one of the catalog essays as having been made because of the artistic and intellectual debt American artists felt they owed to France. An additional sale took place in 1917.
Several of the essays in the catalog for the exhibition detail the debt America owes to France, both politically and intellectually, with one of the essays titled ‘What We Owe To France” and ending with a quotation of the first toast of the Alliance in 1774, "To America! To France! To General Washington and to the American Army, to the Independence of America! To the Alliance of France and America! May it never be broken!," (see illustration). As the art critic William A. Coffin said in one of the catalog essays, “We feel certain that the opportunity to see this notable collection of contemporary French art, which, apart from its artistic interest, affords evidence of recognition for brotherly aid in time of stress, will appeal to all those who love art and to all whose love of liberty inspires them to admiration for the people of France in the great crisis which has overwhelmed the world,”