An eye-catching group, this is a reduction of the colossal equestrian statue of Louis XIV by Franois Girardon (1628-1715), commissioned in 1682 to stand in the Place Louis le Grand (now Place Vendme), Paris. A number of reduced size versions existed in the 18th century and George IV owned a copy, bought for him in Paris in 1817. In France, Louis XVIII, restored to the throne after the fall of Napoleon, actively promoted a revival of interest in his more illustrious ancestors and encouraged the taste for styles particularly associated with Louis XIV and Louis XV. This included an attempt to restore or replace many of the great equestrian statues that had been destroyed during the anti-royalist fervour of the Revolution. Copies of Girardon's Louis XIV were produced in several sizes in the 19th century, some by notable Parisian manufacturers such as Beurdeley and Henri Dasson.
The inspiration for this handsome sculpture is the famous classical equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in the Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome. Girardon himself was one of Louis XIV's most important sculptors, conceiving and executing many works for the Btiments du Roi, notably sculpture for the gardens at Versailles. He studied in Rome and would certainly have been familiar with the Marcus Aurelius, which was widely admired in France. He drew almost literally on the famous antique group for his composition making only slight alterations to add a more contemporary character, such as the lively and more naturalistic treatment of the contemporary full-bottomed wig, saddlecloth and tunic. The sculpture was finally erected in 1699, but like most royal statues it was destroyed in 1792.
Edme Bouchardon (1698-1762) was the sculptor of the fine equestrian statue of Louis XV commissioned to stand in Place Louis XV (now Place de la Concorde). Like Girardon, he took as his model the Marcus Aurelius, making his own adaptations. Also like Girardon's statue it was destroyed in 1792 and for the same reasons was much copied during the 19th century.
The inscription BOUCHARDON on this piece is therefore a mistake made by the copier.