King Louis XIV is depicted at mid-lenght, life size, turned three quarters, looking the spectator in the face.
His face with solemn expression is framed by the thick curls of his dark brown wig. His forehead concealed by fringe, his cheeks lightly enhanced with pink blush, he wears a thin mustache above his lips, sketching a half-smile.
He wears a white lace tie around his neck with a red ribbon bow. His fleur-de-lis armor accentuates his royal status. The fleur-de-lis and golden studs adorn its breastplate with strong metallic reflections. Besides the red bow, he displays some garnet velvet facings at the knuckles of the armor. He wears the blue cord of the order of the Holy Spirit as a shoulder strap.
Wrapped around his waist, a large white scarf embroidered with flowers and fringed in gold is tied around his right hip in a balloon knot.
His right hand is supported on the command stick decorated with fleur-de-lys on a blue background. Arranged by the artist in the foreground and benefiting from strong light to draw the viewer's attention to this royal hand which holds the entire kingdom of France in its long, slender fingers.
The prestigious character of our portrait is accentuated by the purple curtain which serves as a background for the imposing figure of the monarch, the choice of color is no accident. Purple in Ancient civilisation was reserved only for emperors and became the sovereign color.
Creating the theatrical setting, the light is reflected in the breastplate and illuminates the face, the hand and the white scarf, skilfully executed drapes at sharp angles reveal the volumes and shine of the satin.
Our artist’s fine and precise brush draws the exquisite lace and numerous golden ornaments of the armor.
The posture of the king with the head lifted high, the static position of this staging reinforce the feeling of supremacy and majesty. In order to enhance this dominant character to the king, the painter insists on the modeling of the nose and chin so that our portrait makes emerge all the power of this extraordinary personality.
Dating from the 1680s, our portrait is at the crucial moment of Louis XIV's wars and his military successes, the king chooses to be depicted in armor, rather than in court dress, proclaiming the bellicose character of the sovereign and the importance of the wars lead by him.
The war, moreover, was for Louis XIV the favorite instrument of his prestige and of the omnipotence of the kingdom that he had to embody.
The image of the warrior king conveyed by his portraits, the steadfast character of his position, is also a warning against former supporters of the Fronde.
Our portrait is mentioned in the monograph on Pierre Mignard by L. Nikolenko, Pierre Mignard: The Portrait Painter of the Grand Siecle, 1983, p. 127, no.72.
Oil on its original canvas, circa 1680 by Pierre Mignard
Dimensions, canvas: height: 100, width: 78 cm.
Louis XIV period frame in finely carved giltwood.
Dimensions with frame: h. 120 cm, l. 100 cm
Provenance: Georges de Monbrison, his sale, May 13, 1904, lot 50
Presence of many labels and a seal on the back of the frame
According to the label: "Portrait of King Louis XIV painted by Pierre Mignard, originates from the Château de Chambord where he disappeared during the revolutionary looting.
Located in early 19th century at the castle of Saint Offange (Maine & Loire)
It was part of the collections of the Duc de Morny and adorned his apartment at the Palace of Fontainebleau
It then went into the Georges de Montbrison collection then in that of the Marquis de la Borde. "
Inventory of 18 .. (the last two digits scratched out), Palais de …… (name of the palace scratched), the handwritten addition Duc de Morny
Most likely, the Palace of Fontainebleau and the large inventory of 1855 made after the coup d'état of 1849 and the arrival of the imperial family including Duc de Morny, the emperor's half-brother.
The seal fixed with red wax: the crowned eagle (before 1870) with the emphasis "Direction des Contributions Directes, Seine & Marne". Probably in payment of the inheritance costs of the Duc de Morny or of the successive owner.
Georges de Monbrison, French art collector and art historian, (1830-1906) Important collection of portraits of outstanding figures of the Renaissance and the Grand Siecle.
Marquis de Laborde, Valentin-Alexandre-Auguste-Joseph de Laborde (1840-1916), president of the Société d'Histoire de Paris, graduate of the École des chartes (in 1863)
Duc de Morny, Charles Auguste Louis Joseph Demorn (1811-1865), French financier and politician of the July Monarchy, the Second Republic and the Second Empire, deputy, Minister of the Interior (1851-1852), president of the Legislative body and president of the General Council of Puy-de-Dôme (1852-1865). Natural son of the Queen of Holland Hortense de Beauharnais and the Count of Flahaut, he is the natural grandson of Talleyrand and the half-brother of Napoleon III and is at the origin of the urbanization of Deauville and the Parc des Princes in Boulogne - Billancourt. Art collector, especially old masters.
French painter (Troyes 1612-Paris 1695). Student of Vouet, he worked in Italy, especially in Rome, from 1635 to 1657, before joining Paris at the request of Louis XIV; he then executed several orders, such as the dome of Val-de-Grace (1663). A renowned portraitist, he knew how to flatter the model, but also to mix expression with grace in light and fresh tones, as opposed to the majesty of Le Brun. On the death of his rival (1690), he succeeded him as the first painter of the king and director of the Manufacture des Gobelins. He has executed many portraits of Louis XIV.