Model representing a quadriga compound of a chariot driven by the victory distributing crowns and two putti, and pulled by four horses.
Composition of wood and painted plaster gilded in the gold leaf, resting on base also gilded in the gold leaf, the quite embeded in a coffering of presentation in mahogany.
This model makes probably part of the projects presented with the aim of crowning the triumphal arch of the Carrousel du Louvre.
In 1806, François Frédéric Lemot neo-classic sculptor very appreciated by the emperor is associated with the construction of the Arc de Triomphe of the Carousel intended to support a quadriga, the horses of this chariot that must make the main ornament. (Fountain and Percier realized the drawings and the whole was supervised by Denon)
Four horses of Constantin 1st were famous statues. Work of a Greek artist of the 3th century before JC, they were placed by Constantin on the racecourse of Constantinople then were taken as war chest by the Venetians at the Turks at the time of the plunder of the city by the crusaders in 1204 and installed on the top of the main door of the basilica Saint Marc de Venise. At the end of the first campaign of Italy, the French army led by the general of the army of Italy Napoleon Bonaparte brought back them of Venice in 1798.
Their antique origin, their transport from Greece to Constantinople then from Constantinople to Venice connected them with the quite whole history of civilization: the Greek and Roman Antiquity, the Byzantine Empire, the crusades... In the term of the campaign of Italy, in 1798, we understand why Bonaparte seized it at the instigation of Vivant Denon who had understood the symbolic value of these Antique treasures.
The new triumphal arch of the Carousel which was a pastiche of the antique Roman arch was not a too luxurious base to receive these pieces of art. These statues, arrived at Paris created a sensation, newspapers abundantly spoke about it and models in reduction were doubtless realized at that time.
To accompany horses we make realize a chariot driven by Victoire and the Peace designed by Percier and Fontaine and realized by Lemot in 1809 on which had to throne the statue of the Emperor (by Lemot). That we placed in the tank, without knowing the Emperor, but in August, 1808, on the return to Spain, Napoleon, furious, made it remove" it does not belong to me to make me statues. That Victoire and tank are finished, but that this last rest empties "
In 1815, following the battle of Waterloo and the fall of the emperor (Restoration), France returns the Austrian horses which restore them immediately in the Venice which had just been annexed to the Empire of Austria by the Congress of Vienna(Vienne). The chariot and both figures were removed and destroyed
The baron Bosio realizes copies of horses and figure of the victory which drives the chariot ( 1828 ). It represents the Restoration guided by the Peace. It is this group which we can see today.
Concerning our model, the figure of the victory distributing crowns appears on two Parisian monuments:
First at the top of the fountain of the Palm tree (placeof Châtelet). This fountain, decorated with several Louis Boizot's sculptures was exactly brought up at the same time that the arch of the Carousel (1808 ).
The second, on the eastern side of the Palace of the Louvre in the form of a bas-relief by Pierre
Cartellier also at the same time (1807).
This is a completely similar version of our model, because not only we find the figure of the victory distributing crowns but also putti in front of the tank.
Our model represents very certainly Saint Marc's horses (in oxidised metal, very dark, why would they have been treated in black and not in gilt, otherwise? Why have they a scale appreciably lower than that of the chariot? If it is not for the 3-dimensional effect to protect the proportions of a heightened figure).
We can move forward several hypotheses:
The most likely it is because the quadriga, when it was commanded gave rise to a competition as it is the custom. The construction site of the Carrousel du Louvre had to be one of at the appropriate time more prestigious because it was the entranceof the imperial Palace.
Several renowned sculptors must have participated at this project.
Our model could be one of retained models.
Why not Louis Boizot (about whom we know that in its immense career a big architectural project was missing, and that this one meant a lot to him) who then have "recycled" the model of his Victoire (we know original drawings of Boizot on which are represented the victory on various bases which could be or projects in architecture or for works of decorative art)
It raises itself from now on at the top of the column of the Palm tree.
Either that of Pierre Cartellier, to whom we shall offer nevertheless the construction site of the eastern side of the Palace of the Louvre.
It is important to note that our model is rather atypical because it is decorated (gilt on the set, the patina of horses, coffering), which is not the custom.
Thus we can think that it was a model susceptible there to be displayed or at least presented, and why not to the emperor himself.
The history will tell us that the quadriga remained empty during all the short period of the first empire, thus when no project will have succeeded.