This scene is full of movement: the king is being borne by his chariot with lightning in his hand - a gesture that is matched symmetrically by the figure of the king in the composition of the Taking of the city and fortress of Ghent in six days, 1678. These two paintings form a pair at either end of the hall. Minerva, symbolising Prudence, is showing the way to Louis XIV. The chariot is preceded by three Victories carrying palm leaves and laurel crowns. Three Renowns raising their trumpets to their lips are also flying with the chariot. Glory, wearing a crown and carrying a circle of gold and an armillary sphere, is depicted close to the king. Behind, holding onto the back of the chariot, is Hercules brandishing his club to threaten the Rhine which is personified by an old man leaning on an urn and a tiller. Spain is wearing a mask as a sign of her duplicity. She has one hand on the horses’ harness, trying in vain to stop the royal chariot. In front of the chariot, next to her terrified heraldic lion and holding the seven arrows of the seven provinces, is Liberty of the Dutch Republic who is anxiously watching the chariot coming towards her. The cities that have already been taken are handing their keys to the victor. On the right, a Victory is holding a standard bearing the inscription TOLVYS (Tolhuis), the name of the toll station near where the crossing of the Rhine tool place on 12 June 1672.

Full title : Crossing the Rhine in the presence of enemies, 1672


  • Title: Crossing the Rhine in the presence of enemies
  • Creator: Charles Le Brun
  • Physical Location: Palace of Versailles
  • Provenance: Palace of Versailles
  • Type: Painting
  • Copyright: © RMN (Château de Versailles) / Gérard Blot

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