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Work Dawn

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


© Musée du Louvre/P. Philibert

France, 17th and 18th centuries

Montalbetti Valérie

This bronze cast of a marble group standing in the Bosquet des Dômes in the gardens at Versailles was created in 1686-90 after a model by François Girardon. Prepared in 1686 and executed in 1693 by Balthazar Keller, the cast was not finished until 1702 by Jacques Desjardins. The bronze stood on the Belvédère terrace at Marly from 1707, at Saint-Cloud from 1802 to 1872, in the Jardin des Tuileries from 1872 to 1910, and in the Square Georges-Cain on the Rue Payenne in Paris from 1926 to 1993.

Genesis and history of the Louvre's Dawn

The genesis of this fine bronze group was a lengthy one. The sculptor François Girardon (who acted as a kind of superintendent for sculpture for royal buildings under Louis XIV) submitted a small wax model in 1686. Philippe Magnier executed the large-size model in plaster the same year, going on to complete the sculpture in marble in 1704 after an interruption due to his work on the construction of the Invalides. The marble was placed in the Bosquet des Dômes in the gardens at Versailles (in situ). In 1693, the bronze cast of the sculpture, which had been prepared in 1686, was made by Balthazar Keller (1638-1702). This Swiss caster living in France had created the cast of the equestrian statue of the king that stood on the Place Louis-le-Grand in Paris. He used the bronze left over from this work to cast the Dawn. The cast was not finished (i.e. adjusted, polished, chiseled, and so on) until 1702 by Jacques Desjardins. The sculpture originally stood on the Belvédère terrace in the gardens of the Château de Marly. In later years it was placed successively at the Château de Saint-Cloud from 1802 to 1872; in the Jardin des Tuileries from 1872 to 1910, before being loaned to the Musée Carnavalet; and in the Square Georges-Cain in Paris from 1926 to 1993, the year it entered the Louvre.

The style of the Dawn

The goddess Dawn, crowned with flowers, alights from her shell-shaped chariot and spreads upon the ground the rose petals she has plucked. Her entire body expresses the vitality and grace of a new dawn. Her tunic, whose "wet" drapery clings to her body, emphasizes her svelte shape. Her feet hardly touch the ground, giving the impression of a lively step: her front foot stands on tiptoe, while the heel of the rear foot is raised. The flapping drapery with its full curves and deep folds also creates a sense of movement. The rounded line formed by her arms ending in long, slim hands with slender fingers gives the goddess the air of a dancer. The fine facial features with incised eyes and chiseled hair with wavy locks complete the image of a perfectly graceful figure.


Bresc Geneviève et Pingeot Anne, Sculptures des jardins du Louvre, du Carrousel et des Tuileries, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1986, II, p. 282-284.
Souchal François, French Sculptors of the 17th and the 18th centuries. The reign of Louis XIV, Oxford, 1987, II, p. 21-22.
Magnien-Agnès, "Les Bronzes Keller", in BSHAF, 1996, p. 61.

Technical description

  • Philippe MAGNIER (Paris, 1647 - Paris, 1715)


  • Bronze

    H. 2.05 m; W. 1.25 m; D. 1.10 m

  • Provenance: Saint-Cloud, 1872 , 1872

    M.R. 3243

  • Sculptures

    Richelieu wing
    Lower ground floor
    Cour Marly

Practical information

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Additional information about the work

After a model by François Girardon (1628-1715)