(Enlarged Photo)

A Bronze Bust of a young Henri IV

It would be true to say that in France the popularity of Henri IV is not dissimilar to that enjoyed by his approximate contemporary Elizabeth I in this country. Besides his political and military achievements he left many lasting adornments to Paris itself, including the Pont Neuf, the Place des Vosges and the Hôtel-de-Ville.

There were few images taken from life, the most famous being the large bronze medallion by Guillaume Dupré depicting the King shown full face together with his wife in profile. However in the 19th Century the fashion for historical busts included several of Henri, usually in heroic late middle age and garlanded with laurels.

We have just acquired a superb bust of an adolescent Henri, wearing a leather jerkin that is eerily reminiscent of that worn by Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love; the degree of detail in the bronze casting is incredible – from the lace of his collar to the stitching on the jacket and the buttons. It is mounted on a well-proportioned marble and ormolu base, bearing his monogram on a cartouche.

Paradoxically there is no signature, although the sculptor is obviously of the first rank.

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