Enormous Foot of Louis XIV

The French now regret breaking up the giant statue.

We returned not many hours ago from the Getty Museum of Art where we had reduced ourselves to a pleasant state of footsoreness while circling the many French statues on display there in a new exhibit. The show is called “Cast in Bronze” because most of the work in it is made of that metal. We know because we stood next to an ill-behaved visitor who rudely rapped on one of the busts with his knuckles until reprimanded by a guard. The sound produced before the intervention was clearly the Bong of Bronze.

Almost every conquering figure, proud glaring bust, narrative alto relievo and cute lil mantelpiece miniature is Baroque, the grand and jazzy art style which writhed, burgeoned, strutted and roiled all over France during the 17th and 18th centuries until the peasants revolted in 1789 and pretty much smashed everything nice. Most of the stuff in the show is what the rioters didn’t get to.

In color, the pieces are an unrelenting gleaming noir. In size the statuary ranges from doorstop to bigger than the largest breadbox ever conceived. The most monumental statue, an equestrian Louis XIV, was unable to attend having been broken to pieces and scattered by representatives of the Enlightenment. But the one bit that remains of le Roi Soleil is awfully impressive just sitting there by itself: An enormous royal left foot (énorme pied gauche royal) of solid bronze.

See? That’s it up there. Gumball machine to show scale.

For another NiceWork post about French art at the Getty (French drawings, to be specific), you should click HERE.


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