This relationship is not an easy one. Out of the three projects that the genius of baroque performs for the Sun King, only one is satisfying to the patron, the portrait. The other two, the equestrian statue and the new Louvre, are both equal disasters.
The Louvre’s reconstruction project does not please Louis because the king wants to preserve what had been constructed by his ancestors; as for the equestrian sculpture, it does not correspond to the king’ idea of baroque, which is that of scale and not so much of movement.
Furthermore, Bernini does the study of Louis’ face when the king is in his twenties; the statue arrives to Versailles from Rome when His Majesty is already fifty-eight.
If we were to dump a sack of flour over our mother, used to say the artist, we wouldn’t recognize her, even if she were to walk on the other side of the street. Imagine Louis XIV meeting himself in the same condition, but twenty years later.
Who is this? And when he finally figures it out, he gets angry; and he is getting angrier and angrier as time goes by, for he is banishing the statue farther and farther away from his palace.
Until finally we find it here, on the bank of the Swiss Lake. Here it endures the turbulent ride of the French Revolution. By the way, this is the only Louis XIV statue which survives the event: does not get its nose broken, or anything like that. Perhaps the revolutionaries, just like Louis himself, do not recognize their king?