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Apollo’s Chariot at Versailles Restored to its Former Glory

Published on , by Sophie Humann

After spending 14 months in the Coubertin Foundry, the most famous fountain in the gardens of Versailles is back where it belongs in the Grande Perspective designed by André Le Nôtre.

© Didier Saulnier Apollo’s Chariot at Versailles Restored to its Former Glory

© Didier Saulnier

Eager to pull the sun across the sky, Apollo, accompanied by a cherubic Cupid, drives his chariot hoisted out of the water by four spirited horses, with as many dolphins between them, with four tritons trumpeting his fame at the four cardinal directions. Each sculpture in this group by Jean-Baptiste Tuby (1629-1700) has its own vitality, giving the whole a lifelike energy. On February 15, Laurent Salomé, director of the National Museum of the Palaces of Versailles and Trianon, was moved at the sight of the gilded god on his stone base. “Jean-Baptiste Tuby is really the French Michelangelo,” he said. “He deserves to be as famous as Coysevox and Girardon.” Jacques Moulin, the head architect of historic monuments responsible for the park and gardens of Versailles, who was in charge of the restoration of Apollo's Chariot (or “Apollo on His Chariot”), shares that conviction. “Jean-Baptiste Tuby (né Giambattista Tubi), an Italian artist who worked with Bernini in Rome, was an odd character,” he says. “Little is known about him, other than that he was capable…
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