François Girardon produced his last masterpiece in Paris: the bronze equestrian statue of Louis XIV, on the place Vendôme. He took over from Pierre Pugot who subsequently retired. In 1699 he completed the statue, erected by the town of Paris on the Place Louis le Grand. This statue was melted down during the French Revolution, and is known to us only by a small bronze model (shown above in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre) finished by Girardon himself. Designed on a scale with the setting (30 feet tall) it was to influence all similar statues in France and in Europe. The foot of the original statue is in the Getty museum in LA.
In France, in the middle of the seventeenth century, the principle role of sculptors was to decorate Versailles or the royal chateau. The influence of Bernini was everywhere, his style was characterized by movement and virtuosity. Giradon, Pugot, Zirn and Coysevox all were all heavily influenced by Bernini.
Born in Troyes, Girardon was the closest collaborator of Le Brun (architect of Versailles) and also the protégé of the Chancellor Séguier. Sent to Rome where he studied art with Bernini, he worked on the decor of the Apollo Gallery of the Louvre, his first royal commission (1659), then in the Tuileries.