Sunday, 25 September 2016

Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV by Coysevox at Rennes

The Bronze Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV
by Antoine Coysevox (1640 -1720).
Engraving below by Simon Thomassin (1655 - 1733).
465 x 340 mm.
Contracted 9 June 1686 for 90,000 Livres.
Arrived in Nantes 1716.
Erected in 1726 in the Place Royale in Rennes.
Destroyed in the French Revolution 1792.
The two bronze plaques on the plinth survive in the Rennes Museum.
One represents France Triumphant over the seas (see drawing below) the other the presentation to the King of Coysevox's project in the presence of the Siamese Ambassadors.
see Souchal, French Sculptors ....1977.

Engraving by Thomassin dated 1699.
Royal Collection
Anonymous Watercolour 45 x 29 cms
dated 1725.
Bibliotheque Rennes, Brittany.
Engraving after Huguet.
From a map of 1725.
Just to muddy the waters Sotheby's London sold a magnificent riderless bronze statuette which was attributed to Antoine Coysevox and described as 18th Century.
I am not entirely convinced. There are distinct similarities to the engraving above but the foliage on the base is not depicted in the Thomassin engraving. There is no provenance prior to 1791.
More work need to take place particularly close comparisons with other versions of the French equestrian statues of Louis XIV and Louis XV, before there is a definitive answer
The saddle cloth has been cast separately.
On a personal note if I could have any of the equestrian statuettes this is the one I would want.
Provenance - probably Joseph Depestre, Count of Seneffe and Turnhout, Château de Seneffe, Hainaut, Belgium, by 1791;
thence by descent to his heirs;
probably their sale, 24 October to 17 November 1825;
probably Viscount Mathieu Denis Claire Talon, Marquis of Boulay, until 1853;
by descent to Denis Gabriel Victor Talon and Marquise Carolina Sampieri, Villa Talon, Bologna, circa 1853;
and thence by family descent
A quote from Sotheby's Catalogue -
As few as four? versions of the present horse survive, of which only two measure an extraordinary 89 by 83 centimetres. The spectacular size of the present bronze as well as the rounded Baroque elegance and movement of the model have rightly led art historians to associate the model with a long-lost equestrian monument to Louis XIV that towered over the city of Rennes before the Revolution.
Both this bronze and the other large version were once in the possession of the noble Talon-Sampieri family of Italy and were probably inherited from their Belgian ancestor Joseph Depestre, the Count of Seneffe and Turnhout. The high regard in which the model has been held is illustrated by Depestre’s early inventories and estate sale catalogue: “Un Cheval de Bronze, dit le fameux cheval de bronze. Cette piece est unique par toutes ces perfections et beauté.”
My highlight!
For Sotheby's full Catalogue entry see -
The Sotheby's Catalogue suggests that the horse of the Equestrian statue in the Grunes Gewolbe, Dresden of Augustus the Strong is a version of this model but Francois Souchal in French Sculptors.....attributes it to Le Hongre. It was cast in two parts - the rider is a separate cast. see my blog entry for the Le Hongre statue at Dijon and its versions.

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