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Louis XIV

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1660 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 5, The Friends of the V&A Gallery, case FS, shelf BY WN

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.

Place of Origin

France (made)


ca. 1660 (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 892 mm with socle, Height: 692 mm without socle, Width: 610 mm, Depth: 260 mm

Object history note

Given by Dr. W. L. Hildburgh, F. S. A., 1951.

Descriptive line

Bust, bronze, of Louis XIV, French, about 1660

Labels and date

French; about 1660
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]

Subjects depicted

Bird; King; Fleur-de-lys; Cross


Sculpture; Portraits; Royalty


Sculpture Collection

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