Bernini, “Portrait Bust of Louis XIV,” 1665, Versailles, Musée National de Versailles et des Trianons. (Source–University of California, San Diego)

Fig. 2. Bernini, “Portrait Bust of Louis XIV,” 1665, Versailles, Musée National de Versailles et des Trianons. (Source–University of California, San Diego)

 

Projects for the Louvre: Portrait Bust of Louis XIV

Isabel Smith

The Portrait Bust of King Louis XIV was finished in 1665 and was delivered to the King on October 5, 1665, shortly before the foundation for Bernini’s fourth project was laid (fig. 2).[1] This bust presents the King in a lace collar and flowing cloak. He looks away from the viewer, as if purposefully avoiding his gaze. His wig seems to envelope his head and “suggests the flaming locks of the sun god, Helios.” [2] This bust was to be placed on a ‘terrestrial globe of gilded and enameled copper,” in a special place within the Louvre.[3] The multiple references to the sun, and the “supernatural aloofness” created by the reference to Helios and Louis’s distant expression made this Bernini’s most successful work completed for the French King.[4]  This work parallels Bernini’s fourth project for the Louvre. Similar to the bust, Bernini’s fourth project, with the presence of a classical order and the absence of the dramatic curved wings seem to give in to the cold, emotionless, and classical qualities desired by Louis and his advisor Colbert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] T. A. Marder, Bernini and the Art of Architecture, (New York: Abbeville Press, 1998), 274.

[2] Irving Lavin, “Bernini’s Image of the Sun King,” in Past-Present: Essays on Historicism in Art from Donatello to Picasso, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 161.

[3] Lavin, 163.

[4] Lavin. 166.