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Artist: François Girardon, French, 1628–1715

Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV

ca. 1685

Wax and wood

81.3 x 29.2 x 59.7 cm (32 x 11 1/2 x 23 1/2 in.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James W. Fosburgh, B.A. 1933, M.A. 1935
1959.56

Large-scale equestrian statues were always preceded by smaller studies in malleable material, such as this wax figure. In 1685 François Girardon was commissioned to create a twenty-three-foot-tall bronze statue of King Louis XIV on horseback (erected in 1699 and destroyed during the French Revolution a century later) and used this maquette to experiment with attire and poses. The king is represented as a Roman emperor in antique armor and sandals but with a voluminous seventeenth-century wig. The final statue showed slight modifications from this work, indicating that the Yale University Art Gallery's wax model was created at an early stage of Girardon's preparations. The trunk underneath the horse's belly gives extra support to the fragile material. It was not present in the final bronze.

Culture: 
French
Period: 
17th century
Classification: 
Sculpture
Status: 
On view
Bibliography: 

Charles Yriarte, Catalogue de l’Exposition de l’art franais sous Louis XIV et sous Louis XV. (L’hôtel Chimay, annexe de l’École des beaux-arts.) Au profit de l’Œuvre de l’hospitalité de nuit. Précédé d’une introduction par M. Ch. Yriarte, exh. cat. (Paris: École des Beaux-Arts, 1888), 36, no. 75.

Stanislas Lami, Dictionnaire des sculpteurs de l’école française sous le règne de Louis XIV (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1906), 213.

Ulrich Thieme, Felix Becker, and Wilhelm Suida, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler (Leipzig, Germany: E.A. Seemann, 1921), 167–69.

Pierre Francastel, Girardon: Biographie et catalogue critiques. L’oeuvre complète de l’artiste reproduite en 93 héliogravures (Paris: Nogent-le-Rotrou, 1928), 55.

Galerie George Petit, Paris, Catalogue des objets d’art et d’ameublement principalement du XVIII siecle: tableaux anciens…Dessins Anciens et Moderns…Porcelaines de la Chine; Porcelaines de Sèvres, pâte tendre et da Saxe Bronzes - Objets variés…sculptures..sieges et meubles, sale cat. (December 1, 1930).

Galerie Jean Charpentier, Paris, Catalogue des tableaux anciens, dessins et aquarelles anciens, tableaux et gouaches modernes, bronzes de Barye, tre`s belles gravures anciennes, objets d’art et d’ameublement composant la collection du President Charles d’Heucqueville et dont la vente…, sale cat. (March 1936), 86, pl. XXXIII.

John Canaday, “Art: Acquisitions of Yale Gallery,” New York Times (January 10, 1961), ill.

“La publication intégrale de l’inventaire des tableaux de Charles Ier (1639) par la Walpole Society,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts (1961): no. 10.

Donald Posner and Julius Held, 17th and 18th Century Art: Baroque Painting, Sculpture, Architecture (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1971), 170, fig. 176.

Katherine Neilson and Andrew Carnduff Ritchie, Selected Paintings and Sculpture from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972), no. 123, ill.

Michel Martin, Les monuments équestres de Louis XIV : une grande entreprise de propagande monarchique (Paris: Picard, 1986), 92–117, fig. 40, 41.

Peter Burke, The Fabrication of Louis XIV (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992), 92–93, fig. 35.

François Souchal, French Sculptors of the 17th and 18th centuries: The reign of Louis XIV/Illustrated catalogue, supplementary volume A-Z (London: Faber and Faber, 1993), 108–111, no. 65, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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