Schmitter, Representation (as note 2), p. 420.


The second portrait [fig. 3] depicts the king in similar but somewhat more individualised fashion. Situated in the centre of the picture, Louis XIV is depicted in antique-like robes and as surrounded by emblems of national power (the lion of Spain, the German eagle, etc.) and mythological figures (Hercules, Minerva, Mars). According to Schmitter, the symbolisation of the picture even indicates the precise date of the historical event. [21]

In both paintings narration had an important function for a historical discourse that revolved around the king’s body. The depiction of a battle, a mythical scene or the portraiture of the king all served the purpose of creating history, a great narration dedicated to the glorious nation and its absolutist sovereign. Marin describes this as the transformation of the «paradigm ‘history’ into a particular narrative» constructed around the king, which eventually turned into «a universal model


Marin, Portrait of the King (as note 9), pp. 41f.


Marin elaborates: «Louis XIV makes history, but it is his history that is made in what he does, and at the same time his historian, by writing what he does, writes what must be written.» [22] The same could be said about the visual portrait: the painter paints what must be depicted and, consequently, in Le Brun’s portraits history is perceived as a predetermined script staged in the honour of the king.

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