Fashion Watercolour II
This lovely watercolour depicts a dancing Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715) in his finery. Louis XIV loved ballet and frequently danced in court ballets during the early half of his reign. The Sun King performed in forty major ballets acting out approximately eighty roles – a career that rivaled that of a professional ballet dancer at the time. Here, the king sports an elegant orange coat enhanced by golden brown patterns. His dark tricorn hat, accentuated by a row of orange yarn or other fabric, complements his sophisticated appearance. The king stands with his legs crossed and holds up a pair of hand-held glasses to his face. The author of this work was concerned with detail, and depicted the king’s costume with precision, highlighting the latter’s shoe buckles and the shiny nature of his costume jewelry. Louis XIV made a habit of having a ballet lesson every day after his morning riding lesson and he demonstrated his commitment to dancing as an art form when he founded the Académie Royale de la Danse in 1661. Fashion and dance were closely interlinked during Louis the Great’s reign and this image conjures up the lavish stagings that were hosted at court around the mid-17th century. This watercolour was produced by an unknown Czech artist and framed at a later date.
At this time in history at Versailles Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1646–1708) added the long, familiar garden facade, and, with unforgettable magnificence, Charles Le Brun (1619–1690) decorated the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) and the adjoining Salon de la Paix (Salon of Peace) and Salon de la Guerre (Salon of War). There the composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–1687) devised and directed a number of musical entertainments with such success that Louis granted him noble status and the office of a royal secretary. There, too, the comic genius Molière (1622-1673) was encouraged by the king’s support; after the dramatist’s death, Louis was directly responsible for the establishment, in 1680, of the Comédie-Française.