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 Geneva Mercer  (1889 - 1984)

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Lived/Active: Alabama / Italy      Known for: sculpture, fountain figures, portraits and bas reliefs

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
"The Swing"
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
Born and raised in Jefferson, Alabama, Geneva Mercer began sculpting at an early age.  After completing high school in 1904, she entered Alabama Normal College (now Livingston University), earning a teaching certificate while working at home on her sculpture.

In 1907, her work was brought to the attention of the Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti (1859-1935), then living near Talladega, Alabama.  Moretti offered to take Mercer on as a student and assistant.  From 1907 to 1909, first in Alabama and then in Florence, Italy, she copied from antique and Renaissance models, at the same time learning technique.  By the conclusion of this tutorial, she had become a respectable apprentice.

Over the next twenty-five years Mercer assisted Moretti on projects in the United States, Italy, and Cuba.  In addition to these collaborations, she produced fountain figures, portraits, and reliefs. Among her figure works was Female Torso, modeled in 1916, and carved in 1926 in Italy.  It is Mercer's only known female nude, and is carved from Carrara marble.

In the mid-1920s, Mercer and the Morettis returned to Italy, where the family purchased a villa in San Remo overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  She worked on her own projects and assisted Moretti until his death in 1935, and remained in Italy until 1939.  Shortly before World War II, she and Mrs. Moretti returned to the United States, and settled in Boston. 

Mercer produced a few bronze portraits and reliefs, taught clay modeling, and painted portraits and still lifes, a skill she had developed earlier, but had not pursued. After Mrs. Moretti's death in 1958, Mercer returned to Alabama, settling in Demopolis, where she died in 1984.

Sources include:
Miriam Rogers Fowler. Guiseppe Moretti: Master Sculptor and Father of Vulcan. Birmingham: Birmingham Museum of Art, 2002
John Heel, "The Creative Life", Alabama West (July 1971), p. 3.

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