Posthumous bust of the architect Jacques Gabriel I
Jacques Gabriel Antoine Coysevox
Lyon, 1649 - Paris, 1720
1711, marble, 88 x 65 cm
The inscriptions found on the back of the sculpture inform us of the identity of the individual represented: Jacques Gabriel, and the identity of its creator: Jacques Gabriel Antoine Coysevox.
Antoine Coysevox was the greatest French sculptor at the end of the reign of Louis XIV and one of the main sculptors whose work was displayed at Versailles. We have him to thank, for example for the statues on the façades of the château, two rivers in bronze for the water border and two of the famous winged horses of Marly decorating the Place de la Concorde on the side of the Jardin des Tuileries. A talented portraitist, he also created several busts of Louis XIV, as well as of the greats of the realm, statesmen and artists.
Jacques Gabriel was one of Louis XIV’s architects. He built the manufactory of Gobelins, part of the Palais Royal and several châteaux around Paris. He participated in the construction of Versailles, where his descendants would win renown. Jacques I Gabriel was in fact the first in a long dynasty of architects to the king. One of his descendants is also present in the collection of busts assembled by Edouard André (Bust of the architect Jacques V Gabriel by Jean-Louis Lemoyne).
When Coysevox sculpted this bust in 1711, Jacques Gabriel had been dead 25 years. The sculptor represented him with his head turned to the right, wearing a long wig and dressed in a large coat draped over a pleated shirt. He therefore chose simplicity that was well suited to a posthumous bust.