FRANCAVILLA, Pietro
(b. 1548, Cambrai, d. 1615, Paris)

Four Slaves (detail)

1614-18
Bronze, height 160 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The four statues are from the corners of the pedestal of the equestrian statue of Henri IV on the Pont-Neuf in Paris. Begun by Francavilla around 1614 and finished by his son-in-law Francesco Bordoni (1580-1654) in 1618, the slaves represented not only the conquered nations but also the four ages of life and the four corners of the world, together symbolizing the spiritual power of the monarchy.

Francavilla went to Paris, at the request of Marie de' Medici, Queen of France, to supervise the installation on the Pont Neuf of Giambologna's bronze equestrian statue of Henry IV (destroyed 1796; fragments, Paris, Louvre). The statue was cast in Florence and shipped to France only in 1613. Francavilla was apparently responsible for modelling the four bronze Slaves to decorate the angles of its pedestal, although they were cast only in 1618, after his death, by his son-in-law Francesco Bordoni.

The surviving fragments have been loaned by the Louvre to the Musée Carnavalet.

The picture shows two of the four Slaves, the young and the middle-aged.