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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 XIV

Bust
ca. 1660 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This commanding bronze bust represents the French king, Louis XIV (1638-1715). Louis acceded to the throne in 1643 when he ws barely five years old and reigned until 1715.

This portrait was probably made around 1660, when the king was in his early 20s. Later to be known as the Sun King, the young monarch was asserting himself as absolute ruler. Around this date he started to rebuild the extravagant Château of Versailles, which was later to become his court and seat of government. The importance of valour, glory and military strength as virtues of sovereignty are reflected in the bust - traits that emulated Louis's grandfather, Henri IV. The mantle is richly decorated with fleur-de-lys and he wears armour adorned with the Order of Saint-Esprit on which the 'Hs' in the chain represent Henri III, who founded the Order in 1578. Under Louis XIV, the Order became the highest honour bestowed on a subject.

Louis can also be seen as a leader of fashion with his periwig, and the thin moustache, that the King himself made popular in the 1660s. The stiff, narrow collar was also of its time, replacing the wide lace of the earlier period.



object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Bronze
Brief Description
Bust, bronze, of Louis XIV, French, about 1660
Dimensions
  • With socle height: 89.2cm
  • Without socle height: 69.2cm
  • Width: 61cm
  • Depth: 26cm
Measured for Europe 1600-1800
Gallery Label
LOUIS XIV French; about 1660 Bronze Given by Dr. W L Hildburgh Louis XIV was born in 1638 and reigned from 1643-1714. This portrait appears to represent him when he was about twenty years old. It was about this date that he started to rebuild Versailles. (1993 - 2011)
Credit line
Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA
Object history




Given by Dr. W. L. Hildburgh, F. S. A., 1951.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This commanding bronze bust represents the French king, Louis XIV (1638-1715). Louis acceded to the throne in 1643 when he ws barely five years old and reigned until 1715.



This portrait was probably made around 1660, when the king was in his early 20s. Later to be known as the Sun King, the young monarch was asserting himself as absolute ruler. Around this date he started to rebuild the extravagant Château of Versailles, which was later to become his court and seat of government. The importance of valour, glory and military strength as virtues of sovereignty are reflected in the bust - traits that emulated Louis's grandfather, Henri IV. The mantle is richly decorated with fleur-de-lys and he wears armour adorned with the Order of Saint-Esprit on which the 'Hs' in the chain represent Henri III, who founded the Order in 1578. Under Louis XIV, the Order became the highest honour bestowed on a subject.



Louis can also be seen as a leader of fashion with his periwig, and the thin moustache, that the King himself made popular in the 1660s. The stiff, narrow collar was also of its time, replacing the wide lace of the earlier period.



Collection
Accession Number
A.54-1951

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record createdMarch 8, 2004
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