The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Louis XIV on horseback
  • Attributed to Roger Schabol (1656 - 1727)
  • Martin van den Bogaert, called Desjardins (1637 - 1694), (model)
  • Louis XIV on horseback
  • France
  • c. 1700 - 1705 (cast)
  • Statuette
  • Bronze. Lost-wax cast. Patinated-bronze and gilt-bronze socle. Tail, sword, reind, bit, right arm (to elbow, with baton) and left rear leg of horse separately cast.
  • Statuette, Height: 43.5 cm
    Statuette, maximum, Length: 37.8 cm
    Socle, Object size: 12.5 x 39.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Inscription: 'Louis XIIII Roy de france at de Navarre'
    Inscription: 'Ludovicus XIIII franciae et Navarrae Rex'
  • S166
  • Billiard Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • After the successful wars led by Luis XIV during the 1670s, the need to celebrate the political and military power of the king across the entire French territory found expression in a series of equestrian monuments commissioned by all municipalities.

    Virtually all these monuments derive from one prototype devised by Charles Harduin-Mansart (1646-1708), who, as the first Architect to the king, was responsible for ensuring that all the monuments responded to the same artistic style and purpose. Reductions of these monuments became favourite items in aristocratic collections of the time.

    This bronze is a reduction of the famous equestrian monument commissioned in 1688 by the city of Lyon. Based on Mansart’s designs, it was modeled by Martin Desjardins and cast by the founder Roger Schabol. Of Dutch origins, by 1688 Desjardins already had a long and solid career behind him. He had been admitted into the Academy in 1671 and after becoming a professor he was made director in 1681. He was a regular name in the most prominent royal commissions, especially for the sculptural decoration of Versailles.

    The model for the equestrian monument was ready according to contract specifications by 1691, and the casting was completed by 1694. The statue, however, was only erected in 1713, and the monument only completed in 1720.

    Like all equestrian monuments to the French kings, this too was destroyed in 1792 and the surviving bronze reductions are all the more important because are the only evidence of its original appearance. Most of them, like ours, reproduce only the equestrian portrait itself, but a complete reduction of the monument, including the pedestal decorated with allegorical figures, is still in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Lyon.

    The prototype for the monument designed by Harduin-Mansart clearly is the statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, with the rider without stirrups and with all’antica (in the antique style) armour. The reference to antiquity is however mediated, in Desjardins’ interpretation, by the constant reference to the present, in the use of a contemporary peruke and the detail of the raying sun, the emblem of the king, on the saddle.

    The sale of the contents of Desjardins’ workshop in 1695 suggests that reductions of the monument were produced before its final installation and perhaps under Desjardins’ own supervision. Other reductions, however, were produced around the same time also in Schabol’s workshop where the original model had been retained. In 1699 the Elector of Bavaria bought a version of this statuette from Schabol where the artist substituted the Elector’s features to those of the king. Comparison between our version and the signed one made for the Elector, and with another example at the National Gallery in Washington sharing the same socle, suggests that our bronze too came from Schabol’s foundry. In making replicas of the monument the founder was so accurate that he updated the facial features of the king, therefore providing also a key element to date the bronzes. Our bronze must have been produced rather late in the life of the king, on account of the detail of the sunken mouth, caused by the loss of teeth in his later years.