Louis Le Grand thumbnail 1
Louis Le Grand thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 5, The Friends of the V&A Gallery

Louis Le Grand

Print
1712 (engraved)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This engraving of Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre, is by the printmaker Pierre Drevet (1663-1738) after a painting of 1701 by the artist Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743), the principal painter to the Court. The oil portrait was commissioned as a gift for Louis XIV's grandson, Philip V of Spain but was such a success at court that it was never sent to him and a copy was dispatched instead. As a result of its popularity several versions of the portrait were produced. Drevet's print after the painting was first published in 1712 although this engraving is a third state printed sometime after this. The steady demand for engraved portraits of prominent men in public life during this period grew in importance under royal patronage and this became the staple of the output of Pierre Drevet. He excelled at portrait engravings, particularly those after his friend and fellow artist Hyacinthe Rigaud. Later in his career Drevet was appointed Graveur du Roi (Engraver to the King) in 1696 and was eventually given housing at the Palais du Louvre. This print, engraved by order of the King, had the honour of being held in his collection. These portrait engravings were sold in print shops but would not have been affordable to many. They would also have been given by the King as gifts to visiting dignitaries and foreign rulers to proclaim his power and majesty.


The print captures the textures of the sumptuous ermine and velvet enveloping the figure of the King in the original portrait and demonstrates the remarkable technical skills that were developed among French eighteenth century engravers. The portrait projects an air of grandeur, dignity and magnificence showing an individual not entirely of the real world. Every detail of the work is aimed at producing the image of absolute power. It balances the ideological necessities with some fashionable references in the full wig and the elegant pair of stockinged legs. The king is shown full-length, wearing coronation robes and holding a sceptre with a chain around his neck of the L'Ordre du Saint-Esprit. At his side is a sword. The body of Louis, by now an old man at the age of sixty three, is almost entirely masked by these formal robes which prominently display the royal fleur-de-lis. He stands on a carpeted platform against a backdrop of swirling drapery and monumental architecture. Behind Louis are a throne and a column symbolizing strength, its base decorated with an allegory of Justice and War. To the left of him is a cushion on which rest a crown and 'main de justice' (a staff surmounted by a hand). The portrait depicts a 'king of peace' founded on majesty, strength and justice.




object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraving on laid paper
Brief Description
Louis Le Grand; engraving (third state) by Pierre Drevet (1663-1738) after Hyacinthe Rigaud;1712
Physical Description
Portrait of Louis XIV full length wearing coronation robes and holding a sceptre with a sword emerging from under his robes. Around his neck is a chain with the L'Ordre du Saint-Esprit. He is standing on a carpeted platform in front of a throne. To the left are a crown and 'main de justice' (a staff surmounted by a hand) resting on a cushion. On the base of the pillar behind the king is an allegory of Justice and War.
Dimensions
  • Height: 68.7cm
  • Width: 51.6cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Hyancinthe Rigaud pinxit (Printed below the image on the lefthand side)
  • Louis le Grand. (Printed below the image in the centre)
  • P.Drevet sculpsit (Printed below the image on the righthand side)
  • ?3rd State Didot £1.17.0 (Written in pencil on the reverse of the image)
Credit line
Given by Mrs E. Fuller in memory of the Reverend A. Fuller and A.W.F. Fuller through the National Art-Collections Fund
Subjects depicted
Summary
This engraving of Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre, is by the printmaker Pierre Drevet (1663-1738) after a painting of 1701 by the artist Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743), the principal painter to the Court. The oil portrait was commissioned as a gift for Louis XIV's grandson, Philip V of Spain but was such a success at court that it was never sent to him and a copy was dispatched instead. As a result of its popularity several versions of the portrait were produced. Drevet's print after the painting was first published in 1712 although this engraving is a third state printed sometime after this. The steady demand for engraved portraits of prominent men in public life during this period grew in importance under royal patronage and this became the staple of the output of Pierre Drevet. He excelled at portrait engravings, particularly those after his friend and fellow artist Hyacinthe Rigaud. Later in his career Drevet was appointed Graveur du Roi (Engraver to the King) in 1696 and was eventually given housing at the Palais du Louvre. This print, engraved by order of the King, had the honour of being held in his collection. These portrait engravings were sold in print shops but would not have been affordable to many. They would also have been given by the King as gifts to visiting dignitaries and foreign rulers to proclaim his power and majesty.





The print captures the textures of the sumptuous ermine and velvet enveloping the figure of the King in the original portrait and demonstrates the remarkable technical skills that were developed among French eighteenth century engravers. The portrait projects an air of grandeur, dignity and magnificence showing an individual not entirely of the real world. Every detail of the work is aimed at producing the image of absolute power. It balances the ideological necessities with some fashionable references in the full wig and the elegant pair of stockinged legs. The king is shown full-length, wearing coronation robes and holding a sceptre with a chain around his neck of the L'Ordre du Saint-Esprit. At his side is a sword. The body of Louis, by now an old man at the age of sixty three, is almost entirely masked by these formal robes which prominently display the royal fleur-de-lis. He stands on a carpeted platform against a backdrop of swirling drapery and monumental architecture. Behind Louis are a throne and a column symbolizing strength, its base decorated with an allegory of Justice and War. To the left of him is a cushion on which rest a crown and 'main de justice' (a staff surmounted by a hand). The portrait depicts a 'king of peace' founded on majesty, strength and justice.





Bibliographic References
  • 'Les Drevet (Pierre, Pierre-Imbert et Claude); Catalogue raisonné de leur oeuvre, précédé d'une introduction par Ambroise Firmin-Didot; Firmin-Didot; published Paris, Firmin-Didot et cie; 1876
  • Printing the grand manner:Charles Le Brun and monumental prints in the age of Louis XIV; Getty Research Institute
  • Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence; edited by Michael Snodin and Nigel Llewellyn; assisted by Joanna Norman; V&A Publishing; 2009
  • 'Dictionnaire des éditeurs d'estampes à Paris sous l'Ancien Régime'; Maxime Préaud, Pierre Casselle, Marianne Grivel, Corinne Le Bitouzé; Promodis; 1987
Collection
Accession Number
E.224-1965

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record createdDecember 16, 2002
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