Louis XIV Equestrian

Louis XIV Equestrian, Musée du Louvre, Paris

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, born in 1598, became a prominent Italian sculptor and architect. He was requested by King Louis XIV to come to Paris to design a new wing for the Palais du Louvre,:however, his design was rejected. The Minister of Finance Jean-Baptiste Colbert was put in charge of liaising with Bernini for the production of an equestrian statue of King Louis XIV. After the approval of his clay models, Gian Lorenzo Bernini started work on the marble version.

The equestrian statue of King Louis XIV was sculpted from one single block of Carrara marble, and was completed in approximately 1677 by Bernini and some of his students. The statue, however, did not arrive in France until 1684, where it was to be placed in a prominent position within the grounds of the Chateau de Versailles. King Louis XIV was so displeased with the result that he decided to commission another sculptor to alter it.

Francois Giradon, born in 1628, was commissioned to change the Equestrian Statue. It was altered to depict a mythological Roman warrior and hero named Marcus Curtius, with the features changed and Roman helmet added along with the flames. It was placed at at the end of the grounds of the Chateau de Versailles. Over time, however, the alterations made by Giradon deteriorated leading to a complete restoration in the 1980s. This original sculpture is held within the collections of the Chateau de Versailles.

The current Equestrian statue at the Musée du Louvre is  a copy cast specifically for that site after the grand renovation project of the Louvre, with its modern glass pyramids, was completed. There is another copy, composed of crushed Carrara marble powder dust, located in Jackson, Mississippi, United States.

 

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