Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Statue of Louis XV

Tearing down statues is a revolutionary pastime. From The Iris:
Edme Bouchardon’s last masterpiece, a thirty-nine-feet tall Equestrian Monument to Louis XV, once stood in the middle of Place Louis XV—present-day Place de la Concorde—in Paris. Despite taking several years to create, an epic process that I detailed in a recent post, the bronze sculpture remained in place for less than three decades. Following the insurrection of August 10, 1792, Parisians toppled this emblem of royal power. Now, all that remains of the monument is the king’s right hand holding the upper part of the baton of command, which is currently on display in the final gallery of the Getty Museum exhibition Bouchardon: Royal Artist of the Enlightenment. How did this fragment survive the destruction of royal images and symbols during the French Revolution? 
An anonymous drawing owned by the Louvre shows the crowd that gathered on Place Louis XV to witness the removal of the bronze statue. One man stands on top of the empty pedestal, still holding a stick he may have used as a lever, while two others are busy below trying to remove the relief that decorated the base. In the foreground, the horse and the king are upside down; the arms of the former and the head of the latter broke off when the sculpture fell and hit the ground. (Read more.)

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