A portrait of Louis XIV

This is a portrait of the king of France Louis XIV wearing his coronation outfit. It was painted in 1701. Everything about this painting is spectacular. The large red and gold curtain is reminiscent of a theatre. The king’s wig makes him appear taller. His cape is so big and heavy, you might wonder how it stays on his shoulders!

Look at the position of the king’s legs. Can you stand like that?  Isn’t it like the position of the dancer you see in this picture?

That’s no surprise. When he was young, Louis XIV loved to dance, and he performed on stage in ballets for the royal court. It’s actually him in the picture above, dressed up as the Sun. He is holding the fourth position of ballet, like in his portrait.

But how did a 63-year-old man, who was partially paralysed at the time, manage to portray himself as the long-lost dancer of his youth?

Video transcription

Hyacinthe Rigaud

Louis XIV (1638 - 1715), king of France

Oil on canvas

Room 601


Costume pour le Soleil levant dans le Ballet "La Nuit"


Bibliothèque Nationale de France