Cavalier, a Huguenot, was one of the foremost ivory carvers of the late 17th century.

The present ivory is compositionally unique in his oeuvre, all the other known reliefs being bust-length profile portraits. The carving shows great sophistication in its understanding of the limitations of relief sculpture and the deployment of line and texture. The treatment of the elaborately-brocaded saddle cloth and the King's armour, though paralleled in other works by Cavalier, is particularly beautifully balanced against smooth uncluttered areas, and passages of linear complexity such as the fluttering cloak and the horse's tail and mane. Something of the thought that went into these effects is reflected in the trial carvings of trees and flowers found on the back.

Back to top