A fine Louis XIV style patinated bronze statue of La Renommée Monté sur Pégase after Antoine Coysevox, bearing the signature and date Coysevox 1709 on the base, showing the figure of Renommée or Truth wearing a laurel wreath on her head and blowing a trumpet held aloft in her right hand, seated side saddle on the back of the winged horse Pegasus who leaps over a shield and lion pelt, on a rectangular base
French, probably Paris, date circa 1810-30
Height 61 cm, length 44 cm.
This early nineteenth century French bronze is a reduced replica of the famous marble equestrian sculpture by Antoine Coysevox (1640-1720) portraying Renommée or Truth seated upon Mercury’s mythological winged horse Pegasus. The original Carrara marble, along with its companion statue of Mercury astride Pegasus was commissioned by Louis XIV in 1699. Made in 1701-2 the two marbles were placed on either side of the upper part of the horse pond at the entrance to the Parc de Marly. In 1719 they were moved to the Western terrace in the Tuileries Garden but were more recently replaced by replicas in 1986. The originals are now exhibited in the Musée du Louvre.
Following the signing of the Treaty of Ryswick, 1697 and the return of prosperity to France, Louis XIV entrusted his Superintendent of Buildings, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, to commission splendid statuary to adorn the park at the Château de Marly. Coysevox was chosen to create two equestrian groups. The equestrian statues of Fame and Mercury were intended to symbolize Louis XIV’s peacetime and wartime prestige. Both horses rear above military trophies representing the king’s victories.
The statue of Fame, wearing a laurel wreath and holding an olive branch, is sounding the trumpet of truth to proclaim the king’s warlike strength. The trophies include a shield adorned with a winged Victory holding a palm and crown. The lion skin evokes Hercules, the mythological hero of legendary strength, to whom the king was often compared. The companion statue of Mercury, the divine messenger and god of trade, symbolized the benefits of the return to peace as he guides Pegasus, symbol of poetry. The trophies under his rearing horse include a shield evoking the Spanish Succession, with Minerva, goddess of war, presenting the portrait of Philip V to the Spanish people.
Antoine Coysevox, enjoyed considerable acclaim as chief royal sculptor. Having trained at the Académie, from 1666 he was appointed Sculpteur du Roi and from 1667-71 worked at Saverne, Alsace in the service of Cardinal François-Egon de Furstemberg, who commissioned him to carry out the decoration of his new palace. While there Coysevox also began producing sculpture under his own name. He returned to Paris in 1671 and then worked in Lyons 1675-6, where he was firstly appointed Assistant Professor, 1676 and then Professor in 1677 of the Lyons Académie. In 1678 he settled in Paris and was made Professor of its Académie and also worked at the Gobelins Tapestry Factory.
Coysevox carried out numerous public sculptural commissions, particularly for Marly, the Trianons, Versailles and Saint-Cloud. While the majority of his work was worked in marble and stone, Coysevox also created pieces in terracotta and bronze. His bronzes include two vases and nine trophies at Versailles, the bust of the Great Condé and allegories of the Dordogne and Garonne (Musée du Louvre) as well as several busts of Louis XIV (including one at the Wallace Collection, London). In addition he also sculpted allegorical groups in gilt lead as well as lead and pewter bas-reliefs for Versailles. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries many of his larger statues such as this example as well as marble groups were subsequently published as small bronzes.