An angel, seen from behind, carrying the Cross

A study for the figure of an angel in the fresco of the dome in the Church of the Invalides in Paris (fig. 1). The fresco, which represents Saint Louis, surrounded by angels, presenting his coat of arms to Christ, was executed by Charles de La Fosse between 1703 and 1706.

The construction and the decoration of the church of the Invalides continued for almost thirty years, under the supervision of the Surintendant des Bâtiments du Roi Jules Hardouin-Mansart. For the most important section, the dome and its pendentives, Mansart entrusted his friend La Fosse with the task, preferring him to the by now aged Pierre Mignard (1612-1695). While La Fosse worked on the dome, one of the chapels was being decorated by Bon Boullogne who had succeeded Charles-François Poërson.

Charles de La Fosse's composition celebrates the glory of Saint Louis, the patron founder of France and of the monarchy. The saint's dress and visage somewhat recall the features of the current king, Louis XIV. The artist placed the figure of Christ blessing almost at the center of the dome and at the top of a pyramidal structure with the figure of Saint Louis at the left and that of an angel carrying the Cross at the right; this drawing is a study for the latter.

Other drawings for the composition survive: one for the figure of Saint Louis and one for Christ's head (both in private collections; see C. Gustin-Gomez, Charles de La Fosse, 1636-1716, catalogue raisonné, Dijon, 2006, II, p. 104). An oil sketch in the Musée de l'Armée and a replica in the Musée des Art décoratifs (fig. 1) show the composition in full (Gustin-Gomez, op. cit., pp. 106-7, nos. P.154-5).

C. Gustin Gomez, 'Charles de la Fosse 1636-1716', Les cahiers du dessin français, no. 16, Paris, 2012, p. 18, no. 54, illus.

About Charles de La Fosse

French, 1636-1716, Paris, France, based in Paris, France

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Charles de La Fosse, the triumph of color, Château de Versailles, Versailles