Louis XIV as Apollo in the ballet “Ballet de la Nuit“, 1653 by French draughtsman and designer Henri de Gissey (1621-1673). There is still a bit of uncertainty about the author of the costume drawing, it could have been Louis Beaubrun.

This unofficial portrait of Louis XIV wearing a stage costume of Apollo showcases a young king advancing on stage with elegance and dignity without a mask or a wig. His gracefully raised hands, palms down, underline the balance of his absolute rule answering only to God.

From the tiara adorned with feathers to the shoes, the stage costume symbolizes the radiant sun, highlighted by the golden color.

Beyond its luxury, this outfit refers to the double allegorical meaning of the character embodied by Louis XIV: Apollo, God of the sun, and the arts.

A physical and intellectual light emanates from the young king, a miraculous child by his unexpected birth, called to a great destiny which is also that of France according to the theory of the double body (physical and symbolic) of the king, as Louis XIV asserted himself: “The nation does not form a body in France, it resides entirely in the person of the king.“

Louis XIV as Apollo in "the ballet de la nuit"




Bibliothèque nationale de France

Quai François-Mauriac

75706 Paris Cedex, France

Inspiration and Notable Sources:

  1. L'histoire par l'image (in French)
  2. Art Museum Curator James David Draper (in French)
  3. The video "Le Grand Siècle" by Grand Palais (in French)
  4. Musique de la Court de Louis XIV, "Marche pour la ceremonie des Turcs"
  5. Jordi Savall and the Music of Versailles
  6. Baroque vs Classicisme (in French)
  7. The Art of Power: How Louis XIV Ruled France … With Ballet
  8. Famous Parallel Figures: Kangxi and Louis XIV
  9. Ballet de la Nuit: Staging the Absolute Monarchy of Louis XIV