Name of Object:
Model for the Equestrian Sculpture of King Louis XIV
Date of Object:
Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):
Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598, Naples-1680, Rome)
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
h: 76 cm
Alessandro Contini Bonacossi Collection
Type of object:
The terracotta model for the equestrian monument to Louis XIV was created by Bernini, already in his seventies, in late 1669 and 1670. The sculpture of the Sun King on horseback was ordered during a trip to Paris by Bernini in 1665, but we know from a letter sent by the artist to Minister Colbert, that it was not confirmed until 1669. The sculptor, who had studied his model carefully in Paris, decided to show him on the Mount of Glory controlling his galloping horse, his sceptre held horizontally; a symbol of regal equity. Although Bernini was not aware of the location intended for the sculpture, he arranged it – in accordance with Baroque taste – favouring a particular view point, in this case from the left, like the contemporary numismatics showing the king on horseback. This work can be traced back to several models both in ancient sculpture and modern painting and sculpture, most notably the model for the equestrian monument of Francis I by Leonardo (Budapest, Szépmuűvészeti Múzeum).
This terracotta was modelled by Bernini in Rome for an equestrian monument of Louis XIV, but the sculpture itself was executed by his pupils. The king, however, did not appreciate the work, and so it was transformed into Marcus Curtius by the French sculptor Francois Girardon, and transferred to Versailles (now at the Louvre).
How Object was obtained:
Donated to the Italian state by the Contini Bonacossi family in 1926.
Faldi, I., Galleria Borghese. Le sculture dal secolo XVI al secolo XIX, Rome, 1954, n.38, pp. 41– 42.
Additional Copyright Information:
Copyright image: Archivio fotografico Soprintendenza Speciale PSAE e Polo Museale della Città di Roma.
Citation of this web page:
Sofia Barchiesi, Maria Assunta Sorrentino "Model for the Equestrian Sculpture of King Louis XIV" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://baroqueart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;BAR;it;Mus11;8;en