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Work The Grand Condé (known as Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, 1621-1686)

Department of Sculptures: France, 17th and 18th centuries

Louis II de Bourbon, dit le Grand Condé (1621 - 1686)

© 2007 Musée du Louvre / Pierre Philibert

Sculptures
France, 17th and 18th centuries

Author(s):
Montalbetti Valérie

Coysevox, the great portraitist under Louis XIV, creates a very lifelike image of this ambivalent figure, victor at the Battle of Rocroi. The bust was executed in 1688, two years after the death of the Grand Condé. Without masking his ugliness, the artist has managed to convey the fierce, authoritarian nobility of this man, whose eagle-like profile is crowned with a leonine mane. This bust was made for the mansion of the model's nephew, the Prince de Conti, in Paris.

The Grand Condé

Prince of royal blood and cousin to the king, at the age of twenty-two Condé was victorious at the Battle of Rocroi (Ardennes, 1643), which prevented France from being invaded by the Spanish armies in the north. Taking the side of the Fronde, which on occasions served the enemy, Condé was a proud, imperious man whose personal gain came before the general interest. Despite being of a violent disposition and a libertine, he was also a cultured man, who counted among his friends the theologian Bossuet, the playwright Molière, the moralist La Bruyère, and the landscape architect Le Nôtre.

The commission

Antoine Coysevox, the great portraitist under Louis XIV, executed this bronze bust in 1688, two years after the death of the Grand Condé. The commission came from the Prince de Conti, the model's nephew, and cost the handsome sum of 1,600 livres. Although the portrait is retrospective, it draws on a terra-cotta bust (Chantilly, Musée Condé) that was probably executed by the sculptor during Condé's lifetime.

The portrait

Coysevox creates a powerful and lifelike image of Condé, conveying both the physical ugliness and nobility of the figure. A fierce energy emanates from the thin face, with its scornful lips and domineering look, framed by naturally long, wavy hair like a lion's mane. The tension in the face, with its eagle-like profile and hooked nose, makes the veins stand out in the temples. The coat is trimmed with fleurs-de-lis - the royal emblem - indicating the model's rank as a prince of royal blood. Condé is heroized by Roman-style armor, whose elements emphasize the courage, power, and pride of the great military leader: a shoulder piece with a lion's muzzle, and on the chest a griffin (a mythical creature half-eagle, half-lion). Perfect technique and a fine patina further enhance this magnificent portrait.

Bibliography

Keller-Dorian Georges, Antoine Coysevox, Paris, 1920, I, p. 62-63.
Chefs-d'oeuvre du musée du Louvre. Bronzes de la Renaissance à Rodin, Tokyo, Metropolitan Art Museum, 1988, p. 235.
Masterpieces from the Louvre. French bronzes from the Renaissance to Rodin, Brisbane (Australie), Queensland Art Gallery, 1988, p. 68-69.

Technical description

  • Antoine COYSEVOX (Lyon, 1640 - Paris, 1720)

    Louis II de Bourbon, dit le Grand Condé (1621 - 1686)

  • Bronze

    H. : 0,60 m. ; L. : 0,68 m. ; Pr. : 0,34 m.

  • Saisie révolutionnaire

    M.R. 3343

  • Sculptures

    Richelieu wing
    Ground floor
    Girardon Crypt
    Room 20

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