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Hubert Le Sueur (c. 1580-1658)

Hubert Le Sueur was a French sculptor employed in England by Charles I (1600–49), for whom he produced approximately fifty commissions.

Le Sueur came to London in 1625 in the retinue of Charles I's bride Henrietta Maria (1609–69), the daughter of Henry IV of France. He was a skilled bronze founder and in 1631 was sent by the English king to Italy to acquire 'moulds and patterns of certain figures and antiques there'. On his return, he produced a series of bronze casts after the Antique of classical writers and philosophers – including Homer, Socrates and Archimedes. The sculptures were displayed in the gardens at St James's Palace during Charles's reign and were later sent to Windsor Castle by George IV (1762–1830). Other bronze figures – including a boy removing a thorn from his foot, known as Spinario (RCIN 26319) – were cast by Le Sueur for Henrietta Maria’s garden at Somerset House.

In 1633, Le Sueur completed an armoured equestrian statue of Charles I, now in Trafalgar Square, for the Lord Treasurer, Sir Richard Weston. From these he derived a series of portrait busts of the king, most notably RCIN 33467.  Further examples of the bust continued to be made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including two others in the Collection. The last payments from the British Crown to Le Sueur were made in 1638, and by 1643 he seems to have returned to Paris. He is last recorded in 1658.

Le Sueur was born in Paris and appointed sculpteur ordinaire du roi by Louis XIII in 1614. After his move to England, he appeared in a medallion dated 1635, smartly dressed and with an inscription declaring him 'sculptor to two kings' – of France and of England.


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