The equestrian monument to Louis XIV (Statue équestre de Louis XIV) installed on the Place des Victories in the 1st district of the capital, which is memorable for tourists visiting Paris, symbolizes the triumph of the idea of absolute monarchy. The sculptural composition cast in bronze, its inner energy and dynamism express all the brilliance and boundless power of royal power.
In the mirror of history
The history of the Parisian monument to the Sun King Louis XIV began at the end of the 17th century. In 1687, the first monument to this monarch was erected on the newly landscaped Victory Square, under which royal power became absolutely indisputable.
The sculptor Martin Desjardins depicted the crown-bearer standing at full height on an impressive pedestal and looking down from his height at the subjects of the French crown. In this form, a monument to one of the brightest French kings stood on the square until the troubled times of the French Revolution.
In 1792, the king’s statue from the hated Bourbon dynasty was overthrown from a pedestal by rebellious people. The bronze sculpture of the monarch did not escape the fate common to many royal statues of Paris: it was sent to a smelter, and the metal obtained from it was used to produce weapons.
Instead, the center of the square was occupied by a wooden pyramid. It was established in memory of the revolutionaries who died during the storming of the Tuileries Palace on 10 on August 1792. The pyramid stood for only 18 years: in 1810, by order of Napoleon I, a statue of a young general and hero of the Napoleonic Wars Louis-Charles Desai was erected in the same place.
With the return of Bourbons to power, Victory Square also returned the image of their brilliant ancestor Louis XIV. The new monument to the king was completed in 1822, and the statue of a loyal supporter of the overthrown emperor died in a flame of fire.
The restoration of the monument to the Sun King was entrusted to the sculptor François-Joseph Bosio. He did not copy the lost original, but proposed a completely different image of the monarch. Working on the model of the monument to the ruler F. J. Bosio turned to the work of Etienne Falcone. He used a similar compositional solution used by a colleague when creating a monument to Peter I in St. Petersburg.
The great king is depicted as a master riding a stubborn hot stallion. Louis XIV is dressed in antique armor befitting the Roman emperors.
The pedestal for the sculpture was designed by the architect Jean-Antoine Alovin. It consists of a massive base and two stone platforms. Between them is a narrower and taller large rectangular block.
Two bronze bas-reliefs by sculptor F. J. Bozio are symmetrically fixed on the sides of the pedestal. On one side of the pedestal is a scene of the passage through the Rhine. On the opposite side of the monument, the bas-relief figures illustrate a historical episode telling about the establishment in 1693 of the royal and military order of Saint-Louis.
The monument to Louis XIV, recreated at the beginning of the 19th century, was recognized in 1992 as a valuable monument of history and culture. Since that time, it has been considered an integral part of the sculpture collection. Musée d'Orsay.
Address: Place des Victoires, Paris 75001.
Phone: + 33 1 44 50 75 01.