The statues of the Pont au Change

The statues of the Pont au Change

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Title: Monument to the glory of the young king Louis XIV also known as the Pont-au-Change monument

Author : GUILLAIN Simon (1558 - 1581)

Creation date : 1647

Technique and other indications: Bronze Height: 2 m (Anne of Austria), 2.32 m (Louis XIII), 1.53 m (Louis XIV)

Storage place: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Louvre Museum) / Christian Jean

Picture reference: 89-003273 / MR3230; MR3231; MR3232; ML87

Monument to the glory of the young king Louis XIV also known as the Pont-au-Change monument

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Louvre Museum) / Christian Jean

Publication date: April 2016

Academy Inspector Deputy Academic Director

Historical context

Say royal authority

Louis XIII died on May 10, 1643, entrusting the government of the kingdom to a Council of Regency until the majority of his son, who was only 5 years old. Anne of Austria, royal widow and mother of the young Louis XIV, leaned on the Parliament of Paris to have her late husband's will annulled and alone ensure the regency. The representations of the queen, both mother of the king and regent, bear the mark of the quest for dynastic legitimacy to establish sovereign power in times of a royal minority.

Infanta of Spain who became Queen of France in 1615, Anne of Austria did not give an heir to the Crown until 1638, with the long-awaited birth of Louis Dieudonné. In 1643 she assumed the role of regent out of necessity, out of defense of dynastic interests, and perhaps also out of a taste for the exercise of sovereign authority.

Anne of Austria decided to build a monument to the glory of the monarchy in the Parisian public space (or to change the initial destination of a monument designed before the death of Louis XIII). The young Louis XIV was placed there on a pedestal, under a reputation and between his parents, Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. The monument was dismembered in 1787, and the statues are currently on display in the Louvre, in their respective positions and as they should have appeared to the onlooker in Paris.

Image Analysis

A royal family

Sculpted with finesse on a scale slightly larger than reality, the group features a royal family united by blood. Louis XIV, Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, all three dressed in fleurdelized ermine coats and carrying the scepter, share the same sovereignty. The circulation of the gaze is guided by the transmission of authority and the staging of the regency: the deceased king points his finger and orders something, the queen seems to accept it with his hand on his heart, and the little king appears bless the scene with his scepter pointed down. By their volume, the statues impose on the viewer an impression of power, which reinforces the theme treated.

The serenity of the protagonists' features also shows that the transmission of power is taking place normally, according to an indisputable order. The two kings appear in similar outfits and postures (the royal mantle, boots on the feet, one leg forward), while Anne of Austria has abandoned the traditional attributes of widowhood that she sports in many contemporary representations in the world. profit from clothing directly identified with the royal quality of the wearer.


Power through blood

The full-length portraits offer a harmonious vision of the dynastic succession. Cleverly, the young Louis XIV seems to derive his legitimacy from his two parents, while his mother - who ensures the regency in his name - derives hers from him. The royal triangle is presented as equilateral in dignity and legitimacy. The resulting impression of civil harmony made Parisians share the idea of ​​a social order based on an exercise inspired by royal authority. “This is a completely new form of official monumental portrait sculpture; Through this representation, in her performative gesture always replayed, Anne of Austria speaks at all times to the people and the public, in this case to passers-by, seeking support from them. She appears in a heroic pose, as a strong political woman, as a representative of the dynasty which assumes individual responsibility. (Barbara Gaehtgens.)

The monumental assertion of sovereignty was not, however, sufficient to convince Parisians, and in particular parliamentarians who occupied a strategic place on the Île de la Cité - and therefore at the other end of the Pont au Change ... -, that the power exercised was free from criticism and beyond the reach of all human judgment. In 1648, a year after the monument was completed, the Fronde shook the capital ...

Anne of Austria - in reality a central figure in this production - thus posed as a queen who needed to reiterate the legitimacy of her authority. It is understandable that the erection of the monument took on a particular meaning in the context of the Regency, even though discontent had been expressed since 1643 and parliamentarians were going to take advantage of institutional fragility to extend the scope of their powers from 1648.

  • Louis XIII
  • Louis XIV
  • Anne of Austria
  • Sling
  • absolute monarchy
  • regency


CHEVALLIER Pierre, Louis XIII: Cornelian king, Paris, Fayard, coll. "The great historical studies", 1979.

GRELL Chantal (dir.), Anne of Austria: Infanta of Spain and Queen of France, Paris, Perrin / Madrid, Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica / Versailles, Research Center of the Palace of Versailles, coll. "The Habsburgs", 2009. See in particular GAEHTGENS Barbara, "The portraits of Anne of Austria", p. 209-241.

KLEINMAN Ruth, Anne of Austria, trad. from English by CIECHANOWSKA Ania, Paris, Fayard, 1993 (1st ed. orig. Colombus, Ohio State University Press, 1985).

PETITFILS Jean-Christian, Louis XIII, Paris, Perrin, 2008.

To cite this article

Jean HUBAC, "The statues of the pont au Change"

Video: Paris-Seine-Pont de Sully 2017