Bernini’s Louis XIV

Louis XIV by Bernini (1665)

Louis XIV by Bernini (1665)

Some aristocrats were lounging around Louis XIV’s court, watching the old Italian artist, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, sculpt their king.

‘You are a great talent, sir,’ said one of the aristocrats, ‘but here, you have made the eyes too big and the forehead too high. Your depiction of my king is surely not accurate!’

Bernini turned to the aristocrat and shrugged. ‘My king will last longer than yours,’ he said.

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Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral, Old Testament jamb figures including (from the left) Melchizedek, Abraham with Isaac, Moses, Samuel, and David c. 1205

I can’t stop gazing at this door jamb sculpture from the Gothic Chartres Cathedral. Abraham holds his son Isaac, ready to sacrifice him with the knife (half broken unfortunately) held high to cut Isaac’s throat. But Abraham is turning away from his son, craning his neck because, if you look closely enough, you’ll see there is an angel emerging from above him…He will not have to sacrifice his own son. And underneath their feet is the ram, who will replace the boy Isaac as sacrifice.