THE GREAT CENTURY
Patinated bronze on its base made of white marble.
Turn of the century, 17th - 18th.
Bronze: Height: 34,5, Length: 32, Depth: 15 cm.
Base : Height. 10,5, Length. 28, Depth: 15,5 cm.
Total height: 45 cm.
(Tail and right bride restored. Alteration of the patina).
· Martin Durey, count of Noinville (Paris, c. 1658 - Dijon, 1728), architect of the Royal Square, Dijon.
· The descendance of Alix Durey de Noinville, wife of Octave Raguenet de Saint-Albin, 17 rue d'Illiers, Orléans,1882.
· Acquired by heritage: private collection, Orléans.
The first equestrian statue of King Louis XIV arrives in Versailles in November 1685. However, the treatment of his image leaves the King unsatisfied. Eleven equestrian portraits of the King are thus started between 1685 and 1686 all over the Kingdom, but only 6 are effectively terminated and are today observable in Paris (place Louis le Grand and place des Victoires), Lyon, Dijon, Rennes and Montpellier. One could as well add the statue of King Louis XIV at the Paris City Hall, The Dijon statue is the last one to be ordered and it occupies a location chosen specifically for the King.
Louis XIV is portrayed as Roman Emperor, as Marcus Aurelius in the old Capitol in Rome. All from the beginning of the King’s reign, in 1661, a “little academy” is formed around Colbert to work on the diffusion of the King’s image. In order to magnify his personal glory, two lines are chosen: the King’s personification as The Sun, and the identification of King Louis XIV with the Roman Emperors.
Ordered in May 1686 by the prince of Condé, this equestrian portrait of Louis XIV as Roman Emperor is destined to decorate the Royal Square of Dijon. However, the roads’ awful condition do not allow for its immediate transportation. As a result, the great statue remains blocked near Auxerre for nearly 30 years. The monumental group is finally inaugurated in Dijon in 1725. In 1792, a decree of the Legislative Assembly prescribes the destruction of all statues glorifying tyranny. The Dijon Statue is thus sent to the foundry.
As a consequence, the only few testimonies of this memorable group are two preparative designs by Mansart and two vistas designed in the 18thcentury by Lallemand. In 1986, Michel Martin inventories 7 bronze reductions and a plaster in the greatest collections: the Fine Art Museum of Dijon, and the Duveen, Straus & Mayer, David Weill collections.
The history of our bronze is established: it is not the personal copy of the King, which otherwise remains lost, but the copy that belonged to the architect who executed the Royal Square of Dijon.
The absence of marks on the Kings’ left flank leads us to presumethat the sword was never there…
· Catherine GRAS, "Louis XIV au cœur de Dijon : la statue équestre d'Étienne Le Hongre", Musée des Beaux Arts, Dijon.