The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Alexander the Great
  • Circle of François Girardon (1628 - 1715) , model
  • Alexander the Great
  • France
  • c. 1700 (cast)
  • Bust
  • Bronze
  • Bust, Height: 43.2 cm
  • S227
  • Front State Room
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • The young warrior of this bust can be easily identified as Alexander III of Macedonia (356–323 BC), known as The Great.

    Having unified Greece, Asia Minor and Egypt under his control, Alexander – who could count the great philosopher Aristotle as his tutor – became king of Persia at the age of 25. Various symbols on his helmet point to this identification, as does the clasp on his cloak which might represent his father, Philip II of Macedon (r. 359–336 BC).

    The bust has been linked by some scholars to the work of French court sculptor François Girardon (128–1715), who in 1699 exhibited at the Salon a fragmentary antique porphyry head of Alexander which he had “restored” adding a green marble and bronze armour and cloak.

    Whether or not the model for our bronze was made in the circle of Girardon, the composition is consistent with the way Alexander was portrayed in the late seventeenth century, when the image of Alexander was often symbolically used to celebrate the glory of the Sun King, Louis XIV.