Louis XIII by Rude, in bronze, enters the Musée de Dijon thanks to a patron

1.François Rude (1784-1855)
Louis XIII at the age of sixteen, 1843
Silver – H. about 258 cm
Formerly at the château de Dampierre,
probably destroyed
From an old post card

27/11/2007 — Acquisition — Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts — In 1843, the Duke of Luynes, owner of the château de Dampierre where he had employed some of the finest artists of the time, including Ingres for the décor of the Age d’Or, asked François Rude for a monumental statue of Louis XIII at the age of sixteen (ill. 1). The work corresponded to the taste in the XIXth C. of representing historical French figures but its monumental size seemed more appropriate for a public place than a private order. It was, besides, particularly rare as it was made of solid silver [1], most likely the cause of its misfortune. Stolen a few years ago, it was probably melted and sold at the market price for silver.
Luckily, a second version in bronze and of the same size had been commissioned by the Luynes family in 1878 from Barbedienne. After the wedding in 1934 of Duke Philippe de Luynes, the seventh of that name, with a young woman from Argentina, this Louis XIII (ill. 2), at Dampierre itself, was moved to South America where it remained until recently.

2. François Rude (1784-1855)
Louis XIII at the age of sixteen
Posthumous founding, 1878
Bronze – H. 258 cm
Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : J.F. Heim Gallery

As a result of the French tax law on donations, the sculpture, which had been declared “a work of major cultural heritage”, was acquired by the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, through the Jean-François Heim Gallery in Paris and thanks to the patronage of the group Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhône.

The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, the artist’s home town, holds an extensive collection of his works. In 1947, the former church of Saint-Etienne was transformed into a Rude museum displaying plaster casts of major pieces. Although the Louis XIII bronze statue was founded posthumously, 23 years after the death of the artist, it is important due to Barbedienne’s particular care in its elaboration and to the fact that it is the only known example of the work, thus a de facto original after the disappearance of Rude’s initial masterpiece.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 27 novembre 2007


[1] The famous image of Henry IV as a child by Bosio, at the Louvre, executed twenty years earlier, is also made of this precious metal.

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