As the title of Michel Martin's book on the equestrian portraits of Louis XIV suggests (op. cit.), there was a concerted programme in late 17th century France to glorify the king to his subjects through the erection of large scale images of him in a number of public spaces throughout the kingdom. The sculptures portrayed the king as an Augustan emperor, emphasising his dual role as both warrior and statesman.
Several of the most important sculptors of the day were engaged to produce these groups, including François Girardon, Antoine Coysevox and Desjardins. The present group does not appear to be an exact record of any of the known compositions by these artists, but shares stylistic and compositional characteristics with a number of them. In terms of physiognomy the face of the Louis XIV in the present lot represents a combination of both Girardon's and Desjardins's compositions, such as those in the Louvre, Paris and the Metropolitan, New York (op. cit, nos. 49 and 84 respectively), while the horse is a near carbon copy of Girardon's horse in the aforementioned composition.
Although it is not yet possible to attribute the group firmly to a known artist, it is clear that it comes from the same artistic milieu as the sculptures discussed above, and may record a model which was ultimately never erected on a full scale, or has subsequently been destroyed. Certainly, the careful attention to the finer details of the chasing, and the beautiful golden brown patina confirm that it was always intended to be considered as an important, independent, work of art.