Henry IV child
Bronze with brown patina. Signed on the embankment and marked Bronze Society of Paris. Cast edition from the late 19th century.
Height: 67 cm (26.3 in.)
This effigy of the young king Henry the IV, of which the plaster was presented at the salon of 1822, knew a prodigious success throughout the 19th century. Bosio, Neo-classical sculptor, made an incursion in troubadour art, an intimate impression and an anecdote of history. The charm of this statue holds its allure by being both juvenile and serious.
The prince, aged approximately ten years old, stands proudly with his the left hand on the handle of his sword while the right hand falls with nonchalance.
This effigy was part of the Bourbon dynasty’s propaganda under the Restoration Period. They sought to use their glorious history and the potential emotion created by Henry IV, founder of the dynasty to enhance their image to the public. Bosio was in favour whatever the regime: sculptor of Napoleon Ier, first sculptor of king Louis XVIII, he received the title of baron from Charles X. He also received the prestigious order such as the Quadriga of " "La Paix conduite sur un char de triomphe"
Peace led on a chariot of triumph " to crown the Arc de Triomphe of the Carousel or "L'Apothéose de Louis XVI" for the Expiatory Chapel, as well as several royal portraits (Charles X, the duchess of Angoulème, the queen Marie-Amélie). In 1821, the king, Louis XVIII reached the rank Chevalier of the order of Saint-Michel. Bosio later sculpted the equestrian statue of king Louis XIV for Place des Victoires, he then became the officer of the Legion of Honor. He died in Paris in July 1845.
This statue is an exception in the work of this master of Neo-classicism, sculpturing in the fine tradition of Canova.
It is a precocious incursion and success in Troubadour art. This type of art which had developed since the French Empire in painting and then later in sculpture, became linked with History in its anecdotal dimension, intimate and familiar. It hopes to move the spectator rather than trying to construct a neo-classic ideal. The representation of the king as a child is touching due to the contrast between innocence and the gravity of their destiny. The precision of the suit and the accessories are essential to the Troubadour style. Bosio would have been inspired by a 16th century portrait of Henri IV at the age of four (Versailles Castle) by François Bunel (1522-1599), court painter of the Navarre Kings. Nevertheless the artist stayed loyal to the antique tradition: a steady allure, calm face, an absence of characterisation. Here it reconciles with an undeniable freshness that made it a success.
Bosion received two marble commissions, one for the king’s home, the Versailles castle, and the other for the Pau castle, the native village of Henry IV. The silver statue in the Louvre was installed unfinished in the cabinet of Louis XVIII on the 25th of August in 1824, for the King’s celebration. Bosio was given the privilege to cast twelve statutes. The statue obtained such a success and was the most copied piece of sculpture under the Restoration, allowing the sculptor access into the royal circle.
- For an identical sculpture, slightly larger (74.5 cm), given to the princess Amelie of Orleans at her wedding, coming from the collections f the Count and Countess of Paris, and recently acquired by the Amis du Chateau d’Eu (Friends of the Eu Chateau), consult Sotheby’s Une Collection pour l’Histoire belonging to the Family of France, Paris 29 September 2015, lot 153 (sold: 10 000 euros)
- Another model coming from the collections of the Marquis of Lastic, of almost the same size, is actually part of the collections of the Parentignat Castle in Auvergne, in the apartments on the first floor, before the entry of the bedroom of Charles X
- HUBERT G., Les Sculpteurs italiens en France sous le Révolution, l'Empire et la Restauration 1790-1830, Paris, 1964, p.105-108.
- PINGEOT A., LE NORMAND-ROMAIN A. et LEMAISTRE I., Sculpture française XIXe siècle (Ecole du Louvre, Notices d'Histoire de l'art n 6), Paris, 1982, n8.
- SCHIFF G., "The sculpture of the Style Troubadour", in Arts Magazine, 1984.
- PEROT J., Musée national du château de Pau, Quinze années d'acquisitions 1970-1984, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1985, p.108.
- Un âge d'or des arts décoratifs 1814-1848, exhibition catalogue, Grand Palais, Paris, 1991, p.98-99
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