Louis XIV in Costume

Louis XIV in Costume
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) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon 
Accession Number:
© 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.


Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), probably original commission, by 1664.
Lieutenant Colonel Comte Hyacinthe François Joseph Despinoy (1764-1848), (sale, Paris, 23-27 April 1849, possibly lot 133?).
Hippolyte-Alexandre-Gabriel-Walter Destailleur (1822-1893), Paris (sale †, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 19-23 May 1896, lot 709, as Jean Bérain).
Henri Gallice, Rheims (sale, Paris, Galerie Charpentier, 25 May 1934, lot 4, ill., as Bérain).
[?Maximo] Sciolette.
Private collection, Paris.
[Wildenstein & Co., New York, offered 11 October 1978 and subsequently sold 5 January 1979 to];
Norton Simon, by bequest to;
Jennifer Jones Simon Art Trust, to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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