Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV Artist: François Girardon (French, 1628–1715)

ca. 1685

European Art

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.


Wax and wood


32 × 11 1/2 × 23 1/2 in. (81.3 × 29.2 × 59.7 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mary C. and James W. Fosburgh B.A. 1933, M.A. 1935

Accession Number



17th century


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 records is ongoing.



Queulen Collection; possibly Germain Bapst Collection, Paris; Tony Dreyfus Collection (sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, December 1, 1930, lot. 89, illustrated); Président Charles D’Heucqueville Collection (sale Galerie Charpentier, March 24-25 1936, lot. 162, illustrated); Jacques Seligman & Co. Inc. New York, November 1959.
  • Ulrich Thieme, Felix Becker, and Wilhelm Suida, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler (Leipzig, Germany: E. A. Seemann, 1999), 167–69
  • 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
  • Peter Burke, The Fabrication of Louis XIV (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992), 92–93, fig. 35
  • Michel Martin, Les monuments équestres de Louis XIV : une grande entreprise de propagande monarchique (Paris: Picard, 1986), 92–117, fig. 40, 41
  • 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
  • Donald Posner and Julius Held, 17th and 18th Century Art: Baroque Painting, Sculpture, Architecture (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1971), 170, fig. 176
  • 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
  • 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, no. 162, pl. XXXIII
  • 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), no. 89
  • Pierre Francastel, Girardon: Biographie et catalogue critiques. L'oeuvre complète de l'artiste reproduite en 93 héliogravures (Paris: Nogent-le-Rotrou, 1928), 55
  • Stanislas Lami, Dictionnaire des sculpteurs de l'école française sous le règne de Louis XIV (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1906), 213
  • Charles Yriarte, Catalogue de l'Exposition de l'art français 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
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Object/Work type

figures (representations), histories (visual works)

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