A FINE MID 19TH CENTURY FRENCH BRONZE EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF LOUIS XIV AFTER THE MONUMENT BY LOUIS PETITOT (FRENCH, 1794-1862) AND PIERRE CARTELLIER (FRENCH, 1757-1831) POSSIBLY CAST BY CHARLES CROZATIER (1795-1855)
depicting the Sun King with plumed hat astride a large stallion, mid to dark brown patination, raised on a ‘Boulle’ style rectangular plinth decorated with cut brass and inlaid tortoiseshell, with a bronze foliate border,
the bronze 67cm high, the base 69cm wide x 36cm deep, 89cm high overall
Pierre Cartellier was originally commissioned by Louis XVIII in 1816 to produce an equestrian monument for the Place de la Concorde to replace Bouchardon’s monument which had been destroyed during the revolution. The horse was finally completed in 1831, however sadly that year Cartellier died, and it was left to his son-in-law, Louis Petitot, who had worked with him, to complete the commission. Petitot produced the figure of Louis XIV and the large monument was finally erected at Versailles in 1836. The monument was cast in bronze by the renowned bronze founder Charles Crozatier (French, 1795-1855), who had himself studied under Cartellier at the School of Fine Arts in Paris. Upon leaving Cartellier’s studio, Crozatier travelled to Italy where he studied the great sculptors of the Renaissance and Baroque and produced casts of some of their works to use in his own bronzes. He set up his own studio at Rue du Parc Royal, Paris, and his exceptional skill won him numerous commissions from royalty and nobility both in France and beyond.
Louis XVIII commissioned him to produce a sculpture of Napoleon in place Vendome, Paris, as well as the monumental cast of the present group, and Charles X made him Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur. Arguably the most renowned bronze founder in Paris for large monumental works, Crozatier was also known to have produced reductions and statuettes of monumental sculptures, such as Coustou’s Marly horses, ‘Ajax defying the Gods’ after Louis Dupaty (see Christies, London, 23 May 2014, lot 529) and the bronze figure of Hercules after Guillaume Boichot made for the portico of the Pantheon in Paris, which is now in the Royal Collection (RCIN 31361). The exceptional quality of the casting, after-working, surface treatment, patination and minute detail apparent in the present bronze reduction all indicate a Parisian bronze founder of the highest calibre. For example, even the underside of the bronze is depicted in fine detail, the nails in the horseshoe of the horses raised hoof have been clearly defined, a casting trait reminiscent of the great equestrian sculptor Pietro Tacca who Crozatier surely would have studied whilst in Italy. That Crozatier is known to have cast the monumental version of this bronze means that we know he would have had maquettes of this group in his workshop, and it is therefore possible that he was commissioned to produce a fine reduction of the equestrian figure for a particular patron. The Boulle style used to ornament the plinth was fashionable again in the 1840’s and would have been much more costly and time consuming to produce than an ordinary base, this technique is another sign that the sculpture was produced by an important sculptor such as Crozatier during this period.