Native of Lyon and son of a joiner, Antoine Coysevox bacame the leading sculptor during the reign of Louis XIV and first sculptor to the king in 1666. Having moved to Paris in 1657 to start his training with the Academy, he was accepted in 1679 and later rose to the position of Director.
He worked almost exclusively for the king producing portrait busts ( for examples of his more formal portraits see S21 and S165 in our collection), large figures and groups, as well as copying and restoring classical statues for the châteaux at Versailles and Marly. At Versailles in particular, from 1679 onwards, he decorated the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) and the Ambassador’s staircase and carved the brilliant equestrian relief with the Triumph of Louis XIV (c. 1688) for the Salon de la Guerre. He also executed much decorative sculpture for the royal gardens and the funerary monuments of Colbert and Cardinal Mazarin.
During his long and successful career as royal sculptor, Coysevox evolved from a classicising style to incorporate the naturalism and vibrancy of the Rococo. It was probably this departure from the severe classicising style of the beginnings that granted him the king's favour over his rival Girardon (1628-1715). His ability to balance gracefulness with realism and psychological introspection made him an exceptionally gifted portraitist..