Lot 47
  • 47

An important French, 18th century, equestrian bronze group of Louis XIV, after Etienne Le Hongre (1628-1690)

80,000 - 120,000 EUR
87,500 EUR
bidding is closed


  • bronze, dark brown patina ; on a later ebony and tortoiseshell base with ormolou mounts
  • (bronze) 37 x 34 cm; 14 1/2  x 13 1/2  in. ; (socle) 19 x 40 x 21 cm; 7 1/2  x 15 3/4 x 8 1/4  in.
en bronze patiné
sur un socle écaille et bronze doré à décor d'enroulements et d'un masque d'homme barbu, reposant sur des pieds en griffe de lion feuillagée ; (éclats)


This lot is described on reference 147 in the valuation of the estate of the Prince Marc de Beauvau Craon, 5th Prince de Beauvau (1816 - 1883) in 1883 (French National Archives AN.MC/ET/L/1385). It was located in the grand salon of his house on 34 avenue Montaigne in Paris.


M. Martin, Les monuments équestres de Louis XIV, Paris, 1986, pp. 162-164; F. Souchal, French Sculptors of the 17th and 18th centuries. The reign of Louis XIV, Londres, 1981, pp. 326-327, n° 84; N. Milovanovic, A. Maral, Louis XIV : l'homme et le roi, cat. exp. musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, Versailles, 2010, pp. 310 et 405, n° 193; D.Cooper, Trésor d'Art des grandes Familles, Les Princes de Beauvau Craon au château d'Haroué, 1962, p.301 (illustrated).

Catalogue Note

Dating back to the ancient statue of Marcus Aurelius in the Capitoline Museums in Rome, equestrian monuments glorifying the sovereign have been a recurring theme in European sculpture. Between 1685 and 1686, at the height of Louis XIV's power, a vast propaganda campaign was launched to erect an equestrian statue of him on the central squares of France's ten largest cities. The monuments were Louvois's initiative, and he entrusted the King's chief architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1646-1708) to direct the project. Only five were eventually made: one by François Girardon for the Place Louis-le-Grand in Paris (now Place Vendôme), and those by Antoine Coysevox in Rennes, Martin Desjardins in Lyon, Pierre Mazeline and Simon Hurtrelle in Montpellier and Etienne Le Hongre in Dijon.

In 1686, persuaded by the Prince of Condé, the Estates of Burgundy voted to build an equestrian monument to the King in the centre of Dijon's Place Royal. Etienne Le Hongre was the chosen sculptor, then at the height of his career. He had trained in the atelier of Jacques Sarrazin (1588/90-1660) and been admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1663, becoming a professor there in 1676. He had already worked on a number of prestigious royal projects at the Louvre and especially Versailles where he created his three famous allegories of the Air, the Seine River and the Marne River.

Le Hongre agreed to deliver the model by December 1690 for a monumental bronze sculpture that would be twelve feet high and thirteen feet long. When he died, two of his assistants, Roger Scabol and François Aubry, finished the project, probably in 1692. It then took no less than twenty-nine years for the monument to travel from Paris to Dijon. First, it was shipped on the Seine to Auxerre, where it was unloaded and stored for over 20 years as there was no form of locomotion powerful enough to transport such a huge load over land. In 1721, the statue finally arrived in Dijon but was only unveiled in March 1725. During the Revolution, this effigy of Louis XIV was toppled, smashed and melted down.

Like the equestrian monuments of the King by Martin Desjardins or François Girardon, bronze reductions were made after Le Hongre's model, probably for diplomatic purposes or propaganda. Less than ten of these are known today, including one in the former Jules Strauss collection, a second formerly in the David-Weil collection, and a third acquired in 1973 by the Dijon Municipal Museum. There was a fourth one in the sale of the Meyer collection in Brussels in 1927, and another acquired in 2007 for the Palace of Versailles (inv. No. MV 9151).