The King with His Favorites
by Hyacinthe Sabater
(152 x 217 cm) Oil on velvet
Known by history as the King Sun for his sunny predisposition and fantastic tannings, Louis XIV was enormously proud of his legs and was selected sixteen times the sexiest European monarch during his reign. The French monarch commissioned this painting to immortalize his legs in the company of his favorite pair of stilettos. Louis XIV shared with his mistress Marie de Roquefort a passion for elegant footwear and the king owned a collection of shoes so extensive that the entire court had to move to Versailles just to store it. Although the entire palatial compound was conceived as an oversized closet still many nobles residing there had to share their rooms with the king’s footwear. The king spent long periods of time locked in his dressing room trying shoes and other fashion complements while neglecting state affairs. Nobility titles and important political posts were awarded to some of his favorite shoes and soon their influence was felt on French economy and politics. Shoe polish production was made a national priority and shoemakers obtained substantial tax cuts and were given virtual immunity before the law. The situation soon generated widespread discontent, specially among the masses of barefoot peasants and the poor, who resented the lavish display of footwear by the king while they had to walk around with cold bruised feet.
While presiding a session of his ministers cabinet one of the presents dared to speak to the king about the growing unrest and denounced the privileges of the favorites. The Duke of Molasses who had bowed skinny legs and absolutely no sense of fashion launched into a description of the riots that were already taken place: mobs of barefoot beggars had torched a shoe store and a group of conspirators had been put to death for attempting to burrow a hole on the king’s favorite sleepers. The king listened to Duke of Morass with affected disdain and when the speech came to an end His Majesty stood up and displaying his legs proudly to the ministers said: ‘Don’t they just look sooo fantastic?’ To everybody’s astonishment he king had managed to remove his embroidered panties undetected using the heel of his shoes while Morass spoke. Louis XIV remains to this day the only European monarch able to perform this feat and his ministers were so impressed by this display that the Marquis of Flateriette slipped a 10 francs note on the king’s stockings. The king was so pleased by this unique skill and the triumph of his looks over the political insight of the nobleman that he ordered this painting to immortalize the historic moment for posterity. The Duke of Morass’ wig was confiscated and the duke, charged with several accounts of ugliness, was sent to prison.