Обучался в Императорской Академии художеств в качестве вольнослушателя у Н. С. Пименова и И. И. Реймерса (1862-1870). В 1871 получил звание академика за статую «Иван Грозный» (гипс, Кенсингтонский музей, Лондон). Жил в Италии (1871-1877) и Франции (1877-1902), ежегодно приезжая в Россию. На Всемирной выставке в Париже был награжден золотой медалью и орденом Почетного легиона (1878). С 1880 – профессор, с 1893 – действительный член Императорской Академии художеств, а также почетный член Парижской, Берлинской и Урбинской Академий художеств. Среди наиболее известных произведений, хранящихся в Русском музее – статуи «Иван Грозный» (1871, бронза), «Христос перед судом народа» (1878, бронза), «Спиноза» (1882, мрамор), «Мефистофель» (1883, мрамор), «Ермак» (1891, бронза); портреты С.П. Боткина (1874, мрамор), И. С. Тургенева (1880, гипс), императрицы Марии Федоровны (1887, мрамор), императора Николая II и императрицы Александры Федоровны (оба – 1896, мрамор). Созданные по его моделям монументы Петру I были установлены в Петергофе, Петербурге, Таганроге, Архангельске.
Antokolsky carved this sculpture in Paris two years before his death. Due to his health, the sculptor had to live abroad during almost thirty years. He lived in Naples, Rome and Paris. In Paris, Antokolsky led a very secluded life. Nevertheless, at the Paris Universal Exposition, he was awarded with the Grand Prize (the Great gold medal), which was the highest award, and was granted with the French Order of the Legion of Honour and elected as a corresponding member of the Paris Academy of arts.
While being abroad, he finally formed his artistic views: he focused on morality, philosophy and religion. He materialized his heroes in sculptures of large and small forms. His heroes are united by an unselfish service to truth, good, rejection of evil and violence, with pure and sincere thoughts.
The sculpture "Mermaid", which embodies his idea of female beauty and perfection, belongs to his final works. The sculpture is characterized by poetry, refined femininity, absolute sincerity and lyricism. "Mermaid”, as well as many other works created by the artist abroad, reveals Antokolsky’s love for Russia. He wrote to Vasily Stasov: "My whole soul belongs to the country where I was born and with which I was accustomed. In the North, my heart beats stronger. I breathe deeper there, and I am more sensitive to everything around me. That is why, whatever I do, it will always be the result of those sincere feelings, with which my motherland, Russia raised me."
There is another version of this sculpture, made of marble, at the Pavlovsk State Museum-Reserve.Antokolsky Mark Matveyevich 1842, Vilna - 1902, Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, Germany
The sculptor Mark Antokolsky moved to St Petersburg in 1862, where he studied under Nikolai Pimenov and Johann Reymers at the Imperial Academy of Arts. In 1871 he started work on his sculpture of Ivan the Terrible (plaster, Kensington Museum, London). During the early 1870s he lived in Italy, before moving to France in 1877, although he visited Russia every year. Antokolsky was awarded a gold medal and Légion d’honneur at the Exposition Universelle, Paris in 1878 and was later made a professor, then full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts, where he held solo exhibitions in 1880 and 1893. He was also an honorary member of Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Akademie der Künste in Berlin and Accademia di Belle Arti in Urbino.Array