Apotheosis of Saint Louis

Charles de La Fosse was commissioned to make the upper calotte and pendentive at the Dome Church of Saint-Louis des Invalides in 1702. In a change to the iconographic programme of the first project in 1677, the depiction of France’s military victories and the holy warriors, heroes and strong women of the Old Testament was replaced by angels playing music and carrying the instruments of Passion. This painting is the modello, i.e. the sketch of the presentation intended for the commissioner of the cupola decoration, which was submitted to the King and his Ministers.

Saint Louis, established as an ancestor of Louis XIV, is depicted kneeling before Christ, who blesses him with his sword, thus sanctifying the martial aspect of the royal function. Behind him, two angels carry the shield of France. The martyrdom of Christ is suggested by the presence of the instruments of Passion, the column where he was flagellated and the cross. Finally, several angel musicians sing, sitting in the clouds. One plays the harp, looking towards the heavens, and four others play various instruments, such as the lute, organ and violin. There are a few discreet variations between this modello and the engraving by Charles Nicolas Cochin, who created an exact reproduction of the decoration on the dome's calotte, such as the number of angel figures, their attitudes and the drapery details. While the harmonious palette combining soft colours and golden light is reminiscent of the art of Corregio, La Fosse adopts a ring-shaped, swirling composition, with a gap at the centre, in order to reinforce the illusion of a fictitious piercing through.


Date: Circa 1702-1705

Author: Charles de La Fosse (1636-1716)


Techniques: Oil on canvas

Place of creation:


1,995 m


Inventory no.: 2 ; Ea 0014

History: Kept in the Governor’s Office since 1874, transferred to the Hôtel des Invalides in 1897

Additional objects:

Saint Louis placing his sword at Christ’s feet

Saint Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist

Saint Louis in glory, presenting his weapons to Christ in the presence of the Virgin and angels