Résumé

The statue of Henri IV of France is the work of the sculptor François-Frédéric Lemot and was inaugurated on August 25th 1818, under king Louis XVIII.
But in reality, this statue is the 3rd equestrian statue of Henry IV installed at this same location.

The original bronze horse of 1614 had been sent from Italy to Marie de Medici by Cosimo II de Medici and Grand Duke of Tuscany.

It took 3 years for the statue to come from Italy, following a multitude of incidents. The most serious was the sinking of the transport boat and the statue had to be fished out after being at the bottom of the water for a month.

The statue was pulled down during the French Revolution, on August 12, 1792. It was replaced by a 2nd statue made of plaster on the occasion of the entry of Louis XVIII, on May 3, 1814.

The current statue of 1818 is the work of the sculptor François-Frédéric Lemot, who was inspired by the few original elements found left.

The statue was inaugurated on August 25, 1818. Several objects were placed inside the belly of the horse. These were parchment documents relating to the inauguration of the statue, twenty-six medals and three books on Henry IV. They are now kept in the Iron Cabinet at the National Archives, Museum of French History. The list of the eighteen pieces according to the ratings of the National Archives is noted in our post. It is not a "secret" anymore.

Localisation
  • Statue Équestre d'Henri IV, Place du Pont Neuf, Paris, 75001, France

Access

Equestrian statue of Henri IV
Place du Pont Neuf
Paris, 75001

Metro : line 4 (Cité Station) or 7 (Pont- Neuf Station)
RER : line B (Station Saint Michel - Notre Dame)

Bus : 21, 27, 58, 67, 69, 70, 72, 74, 75, 76, 85

Address

Statue Équestre d'Henri IV
Place du Pont Neuf
Paris, 75001

 

Coordinates Latitude Longitude
Sexagesimal (°, ', ") 48° 51′ 26″ N 2° 20′ 27″ E
Degré décimal (GPS) 48.85711 2.34091
Description complète

The statue of King-Henry-IV of France is located on the Pont-Neuf square (some tens of meters long, parallel to the Pont Neuf and at pavement level). This space is on the western side of the Ile de la Cité. It occupies the center of a small esplanade located in the middle of the Pont Neuf, at the exit of the Place Dauphine (by the Rue Henri Robert) and dominates the Square du Vert-Galant, just below, on the west side. The statue is located at the limit of the 1st district of Paris.

The actual statue of King-Henry-IV

The statue of Henri IV of France is the work of the sculptor François-Frédéric Lemot and was inaugurated on August 25th 1818, under king Louis XVIII.
But in reality, this statue is the 3rd equestrian statue of Henry IV installed at this same location.

The 1st statue of King-Henry-IV of 1614 - four years after his assassination

The first equestrian statue of Henri IV is an initiative of Marie de Medici queen and widow of the assassinated king. The statue accompanies the royal square (place Dauphine), since it is located behind the place Dauphine, on the Pont Neuf which extends the rue Dauphine (all three ordered by Henri IV).

Executed by Jean Bologne and Pietro Tacca, it is part of the original composition of the Place Dauphine. It was inaugurated on August 23, 1614.

The setbacks of the statue of 1614

The original bronze horse had been sent from Italy to Marie de Medici by Cosimo II de Medici and Grand Duke of Tuscany. Completed at the beginning of March 1611, it was not shipped until the beginning of November 1613 on a ship from Livorno, which was shipwrecked off Savona. The statue remained at the bottom of the sea for a month "and was only pulled out with great difficulty and expense".
In 1628, five bas-reliefs by Barthélemy Tremblay and Thomas Boudin, representing the battles of Arques and Ivry, the entry into Paris, the siege of Amiens and the capture of Montmélian, were put in place.
In 1635, definitive inscriptions (of the time) on the pedestal of the statue and on a metal barrier that surrounds the monument replace the provisional inscriptions that had been placed before. They put forward Louis XIII and the cardinal of Richelieu and omit the role played by Marie de Médicis - whom her son had banished for the time.

The statue was pulled down during the French Revolution, on August 12, 1792. The statues of the captives that surrounded the central horse were preserved and are now in the Louvre Museum.

Temporary statue of 1814: the 2nd statue

On May 3, 1814, on the occasion of the entry of Louis XVIII, a provisional "replacement" statue was made by Henri-Victor Roguier from a plaster cast of one of the horses of the Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate. It had been stolen by Napoleon in 1806, stored, for lack of a destination, at the Menus-Plaisirs and then taken back by the Prussians in 1814. The base of this ephemeral monument bore the inscription: "The return of Louis revives Henri".

The 3rd statue of 1818, the one of today

The current statue is the work of the sculptor François-Frédéric Lemot, who was inspired by the few original elements found (currently in the Carnavalet museum) and perhaps by the head which is now in a private collection.

The monument is a bronze equestrian statue representing the French king Henri IV in armor, crowned with laurel and holding a scepter with fleur-de-lis in his right hand. Henri IV looks in the direction of the Quai des Orfèvres, while the horse looks at the Quai de l'Horloge.
The statue is placed on a pedestal on the sides of which are bas-reliefs.

The pedestal of the statue

The statue is placed on a pedestal on the sides of which are bas-reliefs.

  • On the front of the pedestal is inscribed in Latin:

"HENRICI MAGNI
PATERNO IN POPVLVM ANIMO
NOTISSIMI PRINCIPIS
SACRAM EFFIGIEM
CIVILES INTER TVMVLTVS
GALLIA INDIGNANTE DEIECTAM
POST OPTATVM LVDOVICI XVIII REDITIM
EX OMNIBVS ORDINIBVS CIVES
AERE COLLATO RESTITVERVNT
NEC NON ET ELOGIVM
CVM EFFIGIE SIMVL ABOLITIVM
LAPIDI RVRSVS INSCRIBI
CVRAVERVNT
D D
DIE XXV MENS AUG MDCCCXVIII "

which means
"The revered statue of the most illustrious King Henry the Great, who had been a father to his people, was thrown down, to the indignation of France, during the Revolution. After the desired return of Louis XVIII, citizens from all orders joined together and restored it, as well as the honorary inscription destroyed at the same time as the statue, which they had carved back into the stone. Done on August 25, 1818."

  • On the back of the pedestal is engraved the following inscription:

"ERRICO - IV
GALLIARVM - IMPERATORI - NAVAR . R.
LVDOVICVS - XIII - FILIVS - EIVS
OPVS - INCHOATVM - ET - INTERMISSVM
PRO - DIGNITATE - PIETATIS - ET - IMPERII
PLENIVS - ET - AMPLIVS - ABSOLVIT
EMIN - D - C - RICHELIVS
COMMVNE - VOTVM - POPVLIS - PROMOVIT
SVPER - ILLVSTR - VIRI
DE - BVLLION - BOVTILLIER - P - AERARII - F
FACIENDVM - CVRAVERVNT
MDCXXXV"

translated as "To Henry IV, emperor of the Gauls and king of Navarre, his son Louis XIII completed this monument, begun but interrupted, completing and enlarging it, in the name of his filial piety and royal power. The eminent cardinal duke of Richelieu extended it according to the common wish of the people, while the illustrious lords De Bullion and Boutillier, superintendents of finances, saw to its execution. 1635 ".

The statue of King-Henry-IV: a box of secrets?

The statue was inaugurated on August 25, 1818. During this new erection, several objects were placed inside the statue. These were parchment documents relating to the inauguration of the statue, twenty-six medals and three books on Henry IV. The whole set was placed in the belly of the horse and is now kept in the Iron Cabinet at the National Archives, Museum of French History. Here is the list of the eighteen pieces according to the ratings of the National Archives:

  • AE/I/15bis/1/1 to 6 - Lead box with wooden core having contained the parchments relating to the inauguration of the statue of Henri IV at the Pont-Neuf and the documents on parchment.
  • AE/I/15bis/2/1 to 2 - Lead box with wooden core having contained the Royal Economies of Maximilien de Béthune, duke of Sully, 2 volumes in-folio bound by Simier, bookbinder of the king, red calf and gilding, arms of France.
  • AE/I/15bis/3/1 to 2 - Lead box with wooden core having contained Voltaire's La Henriade, copy on vellum bound by René Simier, was in blue morocco, "with lace, compartments and arms of France". The binding has disappeared, either by decomposition or by clumping with one of the sides of the wooden box.
  • AE/I/15bis/4/1 to 3 - Lead box with wooden core having contained Histoire du roi Henri le Grand, by Hardouin de Péréfixe, Renouard, Paris, 1816, 1 volume in 8o bound by Simier, bookbinder of the king, in green morocco, with lace and gilt edge. Volume in a very good state of conservation, binding of very beautiful execution10,11 and twenty-six medals (silver, bronze and platinum).
  • AE/I/15bis/5/1 to 5 - four cylindrical boxes (pewter or wood) and a roll of parchment.

The statue was classified as a historical monument in 1992.

Anecdote relating to another story linked to the statue of King-Henry-IV

It is perhaps at the foot of the statue of Henri IV that the first photograph of a human being was taken. Indeed, the daguerreotype (7.2 x 10 cm) of the Pont-Neuf by Daguerre and Fordos, preserved in the Musée des Arts et Métiers, shows in its lower part the image of two people lying down (perhaps workers in charge of the maintenance of the statue). This photo would thus be earlier than Daguerre's photo of the boulevard du Temple with the shoeshine boy, reputed to be the first photo of a human being.

 

 

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