Un Amour de bronze, qui tire une flèche d'eau
Installed in 1667 at the center of the first South Parterre overlooking the Orangery, this confection was one of the earliest sculptural fountains at Versailles. Although the engraving’s title refers to a bronze cupid, it was actually made of métail, an alloy of lead and tin much used during the first two decades of the gardens. Removed in 1684, the work was believed lost or destroyed until it miraculously reappeared on the art market in 2007 (minus the turtledoves and the quiver). This engraving allowed curators to identify it, and technical analysis confirmed its authenticity. The work returned to Versailles in 2009. Now restored, it is the oldest surviving sculpture commissioned by Louis XIV for his gardens.