Partisan Carried by the Bodyguard of Louis XIV (1638–1715, reigned from 1643)

Designer Jean Berain French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 376

This partisan, along with two like it also in the Metropolitan Museum's collection (acc. nos. 04.3.64, .65), are thought to have been carried by the Gardes de la Manche (literally, “guards of the sleeve,” indicating their close proximity to the king), an elite unit of the bodyguard of Louis XIV. This example is from a small group designed by Jean Bérain the Elder (1637–1711) for the marriage of Louis’s niece Marie-Louise d’Orléans to Carlos II of Spain in 1679. The decoration features a sunburst surmounted by the king’s motto, NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR (not equaled by many). Beneath, the sun god Apollo is being crowned with laurel by the winged figure of Fame. The sunburst and Apollo were favorite symbols of Louis XIV, the self-styled Sun King.

The two other partisans bear the king’s motto and sunburst above the crowned arms of France and Navarre, which are encircled by the collars of the royal orders of the Holy Spirit and Saint Michael. One is inscribed RAVOISIE FOVRBISSEVR DV ROY A PARIS, probably referring to Bonaventure Ravoisie, a royal cutler recorded between 1678 and 1709.

Partisan Carried by the Bodyguard of Louis XIV (1638–1715, reigned from 1643), Jean Berain (French, Saint-Mihiel 1640–1711 Paris), Steel, gold, wood, textile, French, Paris

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