Merkurov, Sergei Dmitrievich
Born Oct. 26 (Nov. 7), 1881, in Aleksandropol’ (now Leninakan, the Armenian SSR); died June 8, 1952, in Moscow. Soviet sculptor; specialist in monuments. People’s Artist of the USSR (1943); member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR (1947). Member of the CPSU from 1945.
Merkurov studied at the Academy of Arts in Munich from 1902 to 1905. Until 1909 he worked in Paris. His creative development was complex. Both his early works, which display an elevated symbolism and, at times, elements of stylization in the art nouveau style, and his mature works, which more faithfully reproduce the human personality, are marked by an artistic search for great social content. Striving to create a heroic image, he turned to monolithic pieces and sometimes to a rather static composition, thus intensifying the monumental character of his work.
Among Merkurov’s works are a statue of F. M. Dostoevsky (granite, 1911-13; erected in 1918) and a monument to K. A. Timiriazev (granite, 1922-23), which were erected in Moscow in accordance with Lenin’s plan for monument propaganda. He also created the high relief The Execution of the Twenty-six Baku Commissars (granite, 1924-46; erected in 1958 in Baku), the group of statues Death of the Leader (granite, 1927-47; erected in 1958 in Gorki Leninskie), and the monument to Stepan Shaumian in Yerevan (granite, 1931). Merkurov designed and executed the statue of V. I. Lenin on the Moscow Canal (granite, 1937), as well as the statue of Lenin in the Hall of Conferences in the Great Kremlin Palace in Moscow (marble, 1939) and the statue of J. V. Stalin at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition in Moscow (granite, 1939-40), both of which were awarded the State Prize of the USSR in 1941. He also designed the statue for the J. V. Stalin Monument in Yerevan (forged copper, 1950; State Prize of the USSR, 1951). From 1944, Merkurov was the director of the A. S. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. He was awarded the Order of Lenin and two other orders, as well as various medals.