Artibus et Historiae no. 69 (XXXV)

2014, ISSN 0391-9064

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DAMIEN BRIL - Painted Equestrian Portraits of Louis XIV: On the Criss-crossing of Genres (pp. 213–232)

During forty years in the second half of seventeenth century, Louis XIV transformed and appropriated a traditional pattern of a portrait of power. The equestrian portrait, celebrated in European court art since the middle of the sixteenth century, became one of the incarnations of the figure of the King of France, through three models of representation successively employed by artists: a canonical model of painted equestrian portrait, then a historical contextualisation of the portrait, and eventually an allegorical or mythical image. Within those three types, there is a real variety of production. Depicting this evolution enables to consider not only the transformation of an artistic model, but also of its political appropriation. With equestrian painted portraits, painters, emulating each other, participated also in a ‘fabrication’ of an image of absolute king, military chief and ruler of the state. Subtly, the equestrian image moves the image of Louis XIV toward a timeless dimension, where his actions are not related as factual data, but as symbol of his royal quality.

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