Chariot of the Sun at Versailles

Chariot of the Sun at Versailles
Chariot of the Sun at Versailles

The nickname of King Louis XIV of France, was the Sun King, since he loved being associated with the star king and also with the Greek god who personalized him, Apollo. In fact, he was even depicted with that appearance in some pictures.


However, the most grandiloquent way that the Gallic monarch found to relate his name to that of that god was in the planning of the gardens of his lavish Palace of Versailles. Gardens designed by the architect and landscaper André Le Nôtre, who ordered the entire complex from a Grand Canal. And next to the head of that channel, there is a pond, from which the sculpture of the Car of the Sun.

A work made between the years 1668 and 1671 by the sculptor Jean Baptiste Tuby. Although it is true that it must be said that the work of this artist was reduced above all to transferring to a material such as lead the designs made by Charles Le Brun, an active painter and decorator of many of the rooms of the Versailles palace.

This pairing of Tuby and Le Brun carried out many other palace works. Since Charles Le Brun acted not only as a court painter, but was also Valet de Chambre, that is, he was one of the king's trusted men and counted on him for any design decorative, as well as for the preparation of formal parties or events. And while Tuby, a French sculptor,Although of Italian origin, he was one of the king's favourites. In addition, since Tuby arrived in France, he began to work under Le Brun, especially in the Royal Ghibellines Manufacturing Factory, where in fact this enormous sculpture was cast before be permanently transferred to Versailles.

The sculpture is called the Chariot of the Sun, although it is also known simply as Apollo Fountain. And it is that the protagonist is the chariot of Apollo that seems to emerge from the waters of the pond. Not only the chariot and the divinity, but also the four horses. While it seems that Phaethon has fallen into the water, which comes to represent the bad government, which in this case falls from the car to be ignored by the great Apollo, that is, the Sun King presented once again as the supreme ruler.

The fact is that beyond its meaning, without a doubt this sculpture perfectly exposes the theatrical concept of these baroque gardens, and has become one of the most iconic images of the Monumental Complex of Versailles. In addition to that it has also been a source of inspiration for other later artists such asBartholdiand his spectacular fountain in Lyon

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