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Girardon’s Equestrian Portrait of Louis XIV
- King Louis XIV sits confidently astride a prancing steed in this 19th-century bronze
- The work is a reduction of the celebrated portrait of the Sun King by François Girardon
- Girardon was inspired by the ancient Roman marble of Marcus Aurelius in the Musei Capitoline
- The result is an imposing royal portrait of power and absolute authority
- Get complete item description here
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It was in 1685, at the very height of his rule, when Louis XIV commissioned the monumental bronze of himself from the great Girardon. As sculptor to the king, Girardon was a key figure in the decoration of the gardens at the Château de Versailles, and he was later commissioned to complete several important royal projects, this equestrian sculpture included. The bronze was erected in the Place Louis-le-Grand (now the Place Vêndome) in 1699, but was regrettably destroyed less than a century later during the French Revolution in 1792. One small section of the original does remain — the left foot of the king, which is now held in the Musée Carnavalet (Paris).
Luckily, Girardon recognized the importance of his creation and executed four bronze reductions of the sculpture. Today, three of these four can be found in the British Royal Collection (London), the State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg) and the Louvre. The example in the Louvre is the only signed reduction cast by Girardon.
Since the 17th century, other reductions of the work have been created, including the present bronze, which dates to the late 19th century. Parisian bronziers such as Henri Dasson and Alfred Beurdeley were among the important makers who re-created the sculpture during this period, and this could have come from their workshops. It is a stunning ode to this great monarch, reflecting the glory of his reign and the glory of France.
The archetype of absolutism in royalty, the 72-year reign of Louis XIV, the longest in European history, not only enhanced the power of the monarchy but catapulted France to become the most powerful nation in Europe. Louis XIV built Versailles during his reign to reflect the grandeur of the King and his court which ruled under the belief, "One King, One Law, One Faith." The period during which he served as King of France became known as "The Age of Louis XIV."
Sculpture: 36" wide x 19" deep x 43" high
Base: 37 1/4" wide x 25" deep x 30" high
Total: 37 1/4" wide x 25" deep x 73" high