Louis XIV (1638 - 1715)

Antoine BenoistAround 1705

Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles
Versailles, France

The King, painted in profile, was sixty years old at the time. The bust is evoked by a piece of crimson velvet adorned with lace at the neck and the blue sash of the Order of the Holy Spirit. The coloured beeswax face reproduces the King’s features with great exactness, not omitting the marks of smallpox that pitted his skin. The eye is made of enamel and the head is covered with a real wig whose curls are held in place by numerous small copper pins.

Photo © EPV/ Jean-Marc Manaï

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  • Title: Louis XIV (1638 - 1715)
  • Creator: Antoine Benoist
  • Date Created: Around 1705
  • Physical Dimensions: w420 x h520 mm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Coloured wax, textile
  • Style: Early 18th century
  • Provenance: Received into the Académie in 1681 as a portrait painter, Antoine Benoist achieved fame as a sculptor in coloured wax. His realistic talent won him great admiration. He produced a series of portraits of members of the court and also worked abroad, notably for James II in England. But the Versailles work seems to be all that remains of this particularly fragile production, indicating the great vogue of these polychrome works at the court. It was acquired by Napoleon III from the Marquis de Maurepas and donated to the Versailles museum in 1856, as part of the Emperor's effort to enrich the collections of Louis-Philippe's Museum of the History of France.
  • Original Title: Louis XIV (1638 - 1715)