Larger than life and prominently sited, consummately crafted and enveloped
in ritual, equestrian and royal monuments were arguably the most public and
important works of art produced in early modern France. Focusing on Edme B
ouchardon's Louis XV (1748-1763), this essay explores the power vested in t
hese monuments owing to their dual role as portraits of a living but absent
king and symbolic embodiments of the timeless qualities of monarchy. This
double function of representation motivated their destruction during the Fr
ench Revolution and their subsequent decline in critical fortunes.