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Louis XIV in Costume, c.1663

Joseph Werner
Swiss, 1637-1710
Gouache on parchment (one of a pair)
14-3/8 x 10-7/8 in. (36.5 x 27.6 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on View

As one of the premier European miniaturist painters of the seventeenth century, Swiss-born Joseph Werner enjoyed the patronage of royal courts throughout Europe. The artist created two portraits of Louis XIV; the one shown here may have been commissioned by Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619–1683), the minister of finance for France during the reign of the “Sun King,” as Louis XIV was known. The king’s portrait is accompanied by a pendant depicting his first mistress, Louise de La Vallière (1644–1710). Their costumes appear to be of Hungarian or Polish inspiration, and their face masks, prominent in each image, suggest a costume ball. Werner’s precise description of the decoration and accoutrements of the palace provides a marvelous glimpse of the grandeur of the French court. The setting in both portraits appears to be a palace bedroom. Passionate in his appreciation of music, Louis XIV was equally enamored of dance, a practice at which he excelled. During his reign, the French court played host to all manner of dazzling festivities.

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