French sculptor Charles Antoine Coysevox (kwa-zuh-vo) was born on September 29, 1640. He was an early bloomer, producing his first statue of note when he was only 17. Fortunately for him, he caught the eye of Charles Le Brun, the man who was in charge of the interior embellishment at Versailles on behalf of Louis XIV. He was then employed to create the sculptures at the Château de Marly outside of Paris. It has since been destroyed, but Coysevox’s statues were saved and are house in the Louvre today. In fact, I have a rather personal relationship with one of the monumental equestrian statues, having been publicly humiliated in the process of trying to draw it. (You can read about my art debut and finale here.)
Here’s Mercury and Pegasus by the master.
Coysevox didn’t just do large scale sculptures. He was sought after for his portrait busts for the most important heads of his day, including Louis XIV, Louis XV, Colbert (Finance minister), Cardinal Mazarin, Maria Theresa of Austria, and his boss Le Brun. He produced the funeral monuments for some of these same luminaries.
Coysevox died in Paris, 10 October 1720. I’m glad he didn’t live to see what a hash I made of his masterpiece.
I’d be willing to bet that the vox part of Coysevox’s name is from the Latin word for voice, like voix in French. Today’s expression, faire entendre sa voix (fare en-ten-druh sah vwah) means “to make one’s voice heard.” Coysevox’s voice still speaks across the centuries through his sculptures.
- L’État, c’est moi (onequalitythefinest.com)
- Now available: Additional images from the permanent collections of French museums from the Réunion des Musées Nationaux (artstor.wordpress.com)