This bronze is a reduction of the sculpteur du Roi François Girardon's (1628-1715) famous equestrian statue of Louis XIV. Cast by the fondeur J. Balthasar Keller and weighing over thirty tons, the monumental original was unveiled in the Place Louis le Grand (later
renamed Place Vendôme) on 13 August 1699. Subsequently destroyed by the populace during the Terror in 1792, only one hoof, now preserved in the Louvre, survives from the original (M. Martin, Les Monuments Equestres de Louis XIV, Paris, 1986, pp. 92-117).
That Girardon executed bronze reductions himself is confirmed by René Charpentier's 1709 engraving entitled Gravure de la galerie Girardon, which depicts the reduction supplied for Versailles featured in Girardon's Gallery of Famous Sculptors. Further 18th Century reductions are recorded in: the Louvre and Versailles; at Vaux-le-Vicomte; the Hermitage, Leningrad; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Wallace Collection, London; the William Rockhill Nelson Museum, Kansas; and in Dresden. A further version, stamped with the C couronné poinçon, was acquired by George IV in Paris in 1817 for £360, and is now in the Royal Collection, Buckingham Palace.
The popularity of this model resulted in the production of 19th century reductions by Parisian bronziers such as Beurdeley and Henri Dasson. A 19th century model was sold by the Marquess of Cholmondeley, Works of Art from Houghton, Christie's, London, 8 December 1994, lot 21 (£51,000) and an additional one at Christie's, New York, 27 May 1999, lot 248.