Louis XV: Education of the King

Jean Le Blanc French

Not on view

In 1663, King Louis XIV (b. 1638; r. 1643-1715) established the Académie Royale des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres to organize the creation of commemorative medals that celebrated the glorious events of his reign. By 1723, eight years after the king’s death, the so-called medallic history of Louis XIV (Histoire métallique du Roy) comprised nine hundred medals including variants. These two exquisite examples were created between the years 1715 to 1723 when Philippe II duc d’Orléans ruled France as regent until the child-king, Louis XV (b. 1710; r. 1715-74), could assume the throne as an independent monarch.

Louis XV is depicted at seven years of age in the Education of the King of 1717 (L.2019.30.100) and at eight in the Progress of the King of 1718 (L.2019.30.99). Although his delicate, plump features are those of a small boy, his solemn expression and elaborate armor, convey the majesty of the monarchy. On the reverse of each medal, allegorical images and inscriptions offer precepts intended to guide the child-king to greatness as a ruler.

Medals from the Histoire métallique du Roy were struck in gold, silver, and bronze and often were given as signs of royal favor. To increase their beauty and preciousness, some rare bronze examples, such as these, were embellished with gold and lacquered translucent red. The sensitive portraits of Louis XV were created by Joseph-Charles Rottiers and Jean Le Blanc, two of the most important engravers at the Paris mint.

Louis XV: Education of the King, Jean Le Blanc (French, 1676/77–1749), Gilt bronze, lacquered ground, French, Paris

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