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The Marly Horses

The two sculptures was commissioned by the king Louis XV of France to be in the Marly castle. The sculptures were supposed to replace Coysevox's sculptures "The Statues of Fame and Mercury" which were taken to the Tuilleries gardens. Coustou was Coysevox'es nephew. These sculptures were considered so valuable that they were spared when the palace of Marly was destroyed during the French Revolution. They were placed in the Place de la Concorde for 200 years until they were brought to the Louvre in 1984. So, the originals are in the Louvre but there have been many copies made.

The novelty of this work is that it did not have any mythical allegories. It represents a battle of nature - a strong, wild horse and a strong, naked man. The perception of movement, struggle and straining muscles is easily perceivable in this marble sculpture from any angle. Coustou said he modelled native american slaves for this sculpture, hence the feathered headdress on the ground. The second sculpture is supposed to show an african. This closely correlates to the romantic idea of a "noble savage" which was becoming more and more prevalent at the time. 

Guillaume Coustou the Elder came from a family of scultors and worked for the kings Louis XIV and Louis XV. He won the prestigious Colbert price or Prix de Rome which paid for his studies in the French Academy in Rome for four years. Coustou regused to submit to the rules of the academy and, according to the legend, wandered homeless through the streets of Rome until finding work in a local atelier.