LA FOSSE, Charles de
(b. 1636, Paris, d. 1716, Paris)

St Louis Presenting to Christ the Sword

Les Invalides, Paris

In 1692 La Fosse, who had been working for the Duke of Montagu in London since 1689, was called back to Paris to undertake the decoration of the church of Les Invalides which Hardouin-Mansart had just completed. At first he was commissioned by Hardouin-Mansart to paint the whole building, but gradually other patrons pressed the claims of their favourite artists -Michel Corneille the Younger, Jean Jouvenet, Noël Coypel, Bon and Louis Boullogne - and the share of La Fosse was reduced to the painting of the outer dome and four pendentives.

The subject of the dome fresco is St Louis Presenting to Christ the Sword with which he has Vanquished the Enemies of the church, a theme which combines Louis XIV's new religious enthusiasm with the veneration for his great ancestor, who is depicted in royal robes and in the likeness of the donor. La Fosse has based his design on Correggio, but he has greatly lightened his model by putting all the figures near the edge of the circle and so leaving the middle of the field for the open sky. In this way he gives a certain Rococo lightness to what is basically a Baroque composition.