After François Girardon


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After François Girardon

A Large and Finely Cast Bronze Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV

French, Circa 1880

REF No. B75201

dimensions

Height :110 cm | 43¹/₄ in
Width :92 cm | 36¹/₄ in

description

A Large and Finely Cast Bronze Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV, After François Girardon.

The Sun King depicted as a Roman emperor wearing classical armour and a cloak, sitting astride his mount and wearing a voluminous contemporary wig; the saddle cloth edged with fleurs-de-lis, the horse with right foreleg raised trampling a sword and shield.  

This remarkable statue, emblematic of sovereign authority, is a fine bronze reduction of the monumental equestrian statue of Louis XIV that once stood in the Place Louis-le-Grand (now the Place Vendôme).   Considered a symbol of absolutism, it was pulled down in August 1792 during the Revolution.  

Designed by the ‘sculpteur du Roi’ Francois Girardon (1628-1715), the statue, which stood over seven metres high, was conceived as the centrepiece to the square and was commissioned by Louis XIV's war minister the Marquis de Louvois in honour of the king and created by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart.

Girardon worked on the model from 1685 to 1687 drawing inspiration from the antique and the statue of Marcus Aurelius at the Capitol in Rome.  A lost-wax cast was eventually created in 1692 by Balthazar Keller, a Swiss founder living in France. Executed in a single casing and weighing thirty tons this remarkable technical tour de force was finally placed on its pedestal in Place Louis-le-Grand in 1699.

A popular and enduring model, several reductions were created in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, including an example now in the Louvre, formerly in Giradon's personal collection.  Another version is in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, and one in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

The renewed interest in the ‘ancien regime’ in the mid-nineteenth  century saw examples created by important Parisian ‘bronziers’ including Alfred Beurdeley and Henry Dasson.   A nineteenth century reduction by Henry Dasson is in the permanent collection of the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

French, Circa 1880.

maker

François Girardon (10 March 1628 – 1 September 1715) was a French sculptor best known for his statues and busts of Louis XIV and for his statuary in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.

The son of a foundry worker he was born at Troyes in 1628 and trained as a joiner and woodcarver. His talent attracted the attention of the chancellor of the Académie Royale, Pierre Séguier, a serious patron of the arts, who arranged for him to work in the studio of François Anguier, and later, from 1648 to 1650 to live and apprentice in Rome.

In 1650 he returned to France, and became a member of the group of artists, led by Charles Le Brun, the official painter of the King, and including the garden designer André Le Nôtre, who were commissioned to decorate the new royal park of the Chateau of Versailles.
Girardon rose steadily in the official artistic hierarchy. He became a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1657, was raised to professor, in 1674 assistant to the Rector. In 1690, on the death of Le Brun, he became inspector general of works of sculpture, governing all royal sculptural commissions. In 1695, he became Chancellor of the Royal Academy.

As well as one of the most celebrated sculptors of his day Giradon was also an avid art collector. At his death, he owned about eight hundred sculptures, a collection second only to that of Louis XIV.

literature

Francastel Pierre, Girardon, Paris, 1928, p. 81-82.

Chefs-d'oeuvre du musée du Louvre. Bronzes de la Renaissance à Rodin, Tokyo, Metropolitan Art Museum, 1988, p. 236.

Bresc Geneviève, "La statue équestre de Louis XIV", in La Place Vendôme, Art, pouvoir et fortune, DGAAVP, 2002, p. 91-95.

 

François Girardon

A Large and Finely Cast Bronze Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV







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