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Sculptor and craftsman William Mercer was heavily involved in the Arts and Crafts Movement. Inspired by ancient Roman, Byzantine, and Greek motifs, Mercer sculpted and cast concrete garden pieces such as fountains, benches, pedestals, and arches. He exhibited his work in Paris, Munich, and Berlin, as well as at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1902, the prestigious Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, honored his sensitive use of historical motifs in a new medium by electing him a craftsman member, and in 1913 made him a Master. He also sculpted the poignant World War I memorial by the Courthouse in Doylestown. Similar to his famous brother, Henry Chapman Mercer, William's artistic creativity was apparent in his surroundings. He created ceramic mosaics and stained glass panels for the family mansion, Aldie Mansion, and built a studio on the grounds in the Arts and Craft style. Even the shrubbery and plants were part of his design, the exact position of every one of them noted on the blueprints for the property. The two formal gardens he created provided the inspiration for his garden sculptures. Most of his remaining work is still housed at Aldie.
The Journal of the Bucks County Historical Society, Mercer Mosaic, Spring/Summer 1989. Image courtesy the Spruance Collection of the Bucks County Historical Society.
Education and Training
Private Tutoring, Cuba
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Study of Sculpture with Charles Grafly, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Art Training, Paris, France, and Munich, Germany
Teachers and Influences
William Mercer was influenced by the works of his brother, Henry Chapman Mercer. He was also inspired by Italian garden sculpture, Roman, Byzantine, and Greek objects and motifs.
Connection to Bucks County
A lifetime resident of Doylestown, Mercer lived at the original Aldie. He built the new Aldie that is now owned and occupied by the Heritage Conservancy, a land conservation organization.
Colleagues and Affiliations
William's brother was Henry Chapman Mercer, the well-known tile maker in the Arts and Crafts tradition, as well as an archaeologist, historian, and collector of pre-Industrial Revolution artifacts.
Mercer sculpted the World War I Memorial by the Courthouse in Doylestown.
Along with his wife, Martha Dana Mercer, Mercer was involved with Bucks County communal affairs and donated funds to the Doylestown Hospital, the Bucks County SPCA, and the Melinda Cox Free Library in his will. He also left funds earmarked for a community swimming pool, to be named after his aunt, Fanny Chapman.
Major Group Exhibitions
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1896-1897
Remaining works permanently housed at Aldie Mansion, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
World War I Memorial Fountain, Bucks County Courthouse, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1922
Feature on Mercer's Studio, incorporating his designs and objects, House Beautiful, 1904
Feature on his concrete reproductions, House Beautiful, 1903
Affiliations and Memberships
Craftsman Member, Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, 1902
Master Craftsman, Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, 1913
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