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Gallery Text

The sculptor Martin Desjardins was trained in Antwerp, but spent most of his career in Paris, where he received a number of important commissions. This is a reduction of his life-size bronze equestrian statue, which was erected in Lyon in 1713 and destroyed during the French Revolution. Desjardins captures the horse’s movement through the sensitive modeling of its mane and musculature and the evocation of snapping reins. Depicting the French monarch in laced sandals, ornamented armor, and a regal cloak, Desjardins presents Louis XIV as heir to the splendors of Roman antiquity. The portrait is suffused with mythologizing motifs, including the two faces of Apollo encircled by sunrays on the saddlecloth, which identified Louis XIV as the Sun King. The gilded reliefs adorning the ebony base point to his European triumphs, notably his many victories in the battles of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78).

Identification and Creation
Object Number
After Martin Desjardins, French (Bréda, Netherlands 1637 - 1694 Paris, France)
Plaquettes by Adam Frans van der Meulen, Dutch (Brussels 1632 - 1690 Paris)
Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV (1638-1715)
Work Type
early 18th century
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
44 x 19 x 40 cm (17 5/16 x 7 1/2 x 15 3/4 in.)
with base: 70 x 24.5 x 40 cm (27 9/16 x 9 5/8 x 15 3/4 in.)
Jack J. Emery, Cincinnati, Ohio, sold; [through French and Company, Inc., New York]; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1957.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

French Bronzes, 1500-1800, exh. cat.

Horse and Rider, exh. cat., Fort Worth Art Center (Fort Worth, TX, 1957), repr.

Leonard Opdycke, "An Equestrian Statuette of Louis XIV", Fogg Art Museum Annual Report, 1956-1957 (Cambridge, MA, 1958), pp. 36-44, pp. 36-44, repr. p. 38

Lorenz Seelig, Studien zu Martin van den Bogaert gen. Desjardins (1637-1694), D. Graëbner (Altendorf, Germany, 1980), LIV/13, p. 530

François Souchal, French Sculptors of the 17th and 18th Centuries: The Reign of Louis XIV, Paul Cassirer Gallery (Oxford, England, 1981), mentioned under no. 47b, p. 259

Exhibition History

The Portrait, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/15/2004 - 01/09/2005

Re-View: S427 Impressionist & Postimpressionist Art, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/02/2008 - 06/18/2011

32Q: 2400 French/Italian/Spanish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 02/06/2019

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Works

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