Artwork of the Week: December 14

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After Martin Desjardins (French, 1637–1694), Equestrian Portrait of Louis XIV, patinated and gilded bronze, early 1700s. H. 39 in. Gallery 28

The Artwork of the Week is celebrating the Museum’s “Season of Portraiture.”

Following ancient precedent for images of powerful rulers, France’s Sun King, Louis XIV (reigned 1643–1715), is shown wearing Roman military dress and the imperial cloak and riding without saddle or stirrups (a reference to his control of the state). On his breastplate is France’s symbol—the rooster—overcoming a lion emblematic of Holland or Spain. The magnificent horse treads upon a sword and barbarian shield bearing an Amazon’s head that symbolize enemies defeated. A concession to current fashion (one ushered in by the prematurely balding Louis himself) is the flowing wig, which had the advantage of making the king’s head seem larger.

2 Responses to “Artwork of the Week: December 14”

  1. Dear Curator

    I am currently researching 17th/ 18th Century European Equestrian statues – would it be possible to obtain some further high res photographs of the Museums statuette of Louis XIV by Desjardins.
    This is a not for profit enterprise and very much an ongoing project – please visit my website – I have received much encouragement from many quarters – both private and institutional – Martina Droth at Paul Mellon New Haven, I’m sure, will give me a reference. I very much look forward to hearing from you – very sincerely David Bridgwater

  2. Stephanie Elton says:

    Hi David!

    Please contact Julia Hayes at She will be able to assist you with your image request. Thanks!

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