Le Brun, Charles
Le Brun also spelled LEBRUN (b. Feb. 24, 1619, Paris,
France--d. Feb. 12, 1690, Paris), painter and designer who became the
arbiter of artistic production in France during the last half of the
17th century. Possessing both technical facility and the capacity to
organize and carry out many vast projects, Le Brun personally created
or supervised the production of most of the paintings, sculptures, and
decorative objects commissioned by the French government for three
decades during the reign of Louis XIV. Under his direction French
artists created a homogeneous style that came to be accepted
throughout Europe as the paragon of academic and propagandistic art.
[Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1994]
French painter and art theorist, the dominant artist of Louis XIV's reign.
After training with Vouet he went to Rome in 1642 and worked under
becoming a convert to the latter's theories of art. He returned to Paris
in 1646. From 1661 he became established in the employ of Louis XIV, in 1662
he was raised to the nobility and named Premier Paintre du roi,
and in 1663 he was made director of the reorganized Academie, which he
turned into a channel for imposing a codified system of orthodoxy in matters
of art. His lectures came to be accepted as providing the official standards
of artistic correctness and, formulated on the basis of the
of Poussin, gave authority to the view that every aspect of artistic
creation can be reduced to teachable rule and precept. In 1698 his small
Methode pour apprendre a dessiner les passions...
was posthumously published; in this, again following theories of Poussin,
he purported to codify the visual expression of the emotions in painting.
Despite the Classicism of his theories, Lebrun's own talents lay rather
in the direction of flamboyant and grandiose decorative effects.
Among the most outstanding of his works for the king were the
Galerie d'Apollon at the Louvre (1663), and the famous Galerie des Glaces
(1679-84) and the Great Staircase (1671-78, destroyed in 1752) at Versailles.
His importance in the history of French art is twofold: his contributions to
the magnificence of the Grand Manner of Louis XIV and his influence in laying
the basis of academicism. Many of the leading French artists of the next
generation trained in his studio. Lebrun was a fine portraitist and an
extremely prolific draughtsman.
La Gallerie d'Hercule
The Apotheosis of Hercules
(70 Kb); Black chalk, pen with sepia ink, red chalk with white
highlights on beige paper; Louvre
1655-57 (100 Kb); Canvas; Louvre
Alexander and Porus
salon of 1673 (70 Kb); Canvas; Louvre
Adoration of the Shepherds
1690 (110 Kb); Louvre
© 26 May 1996,
Nicolas Pioch -
Thanks to the
BMW Foundation, the WebMuseum
and contributors for their support.