Charles Le Brun

Nation: France

Artist

Birth Date: February 24, 1619
France Charles Le Brun Artist Cover
I. Early Artistic Development
II. Eminence in Paris
III. The Battles of Alexander the Great
IV. Legacy
I. Early Artistic Development
Charles Le Brun was born at Paris in 1619. He was the son of an indifferent sculptor, and exhibited, at an early period, uncommon talents. At twelve years of age he painted the portrait of his grandfather, and at fifteen produced two pictures that, for a considerable time, decorated the cabinet of the Duke d'Orleans. The chancellor Seguier, his patron, placed him as a disciple with Vouet, and furnished him afterwards with the means of traveling to Rome. Le Brun visited that city in 1643, and formed an intimacy with Poussin, who felt pleasure in assisting him by his advice. He at first took that great painter as his model; but attracted by the manner of Annibal Caracci, he formed a style that seemed to partake of the excellencies of both these distinguished masters.

Le Brun. (1815). In The historic gallery of portraits and paintings; and biographical review (Vol. 3). London: Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe.
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II. Eminence in Paris
On his return to Paris, after an absence of six years, Le Brun, under the patronage of Fouquet, stepped suddenly forward from a crowd of artists to occupy a place which Le Sueur only was entitled to dispute. We are assured even that Le Brun, who was sensible of the merit of his modest rival, exerted upon all occasions his influence to check him in his career, and frequently endeavoured to injure his reputation.

Nevertheless, the fame of Le Brun daily increased, and Louis XIV who had appointed him his first painter, urged him to undertake very extensive works. It was in vain that his courtiers opposed him by Mignard. Le Brun still retained the favor of the prince, and upheld, by the numerous excellent pictures he produced, the title with which he had been honored.

Le Brun. (1815). In The historic gallery of portraits and paintings; and biographical review (Vol. 3). London: Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe.
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III. The Battles of Alexander the Great
His famous series of paintings, The Battles of Alexander the Great placed Le Brun on the first rank in this species of painting. The Italian school was not able to surpass; which the Italians were themselves convinced, when they beheld the engravings of these battles by Andran. The execution of these pictures does not at all times correspond with the beauty of the subject, and the grandeur and the originality of the idea. It is also to be regretted that they display not more correctness in the drawing, more variety in the air of the heads, more harmony in the coloring, and a more vigorous touch. However by how many estimable qualities are not these defects eclipsed — the greater part of which may be attributed to the unskillfulness of his scholars, whom Le Brun was compelled to set to work after his sketches, and to the infinite number of works upon which he was employed, and which he had not always leisure to retouch.

Le Brun. (1815). In The historic gallery of portraits and paintings; and biographical review (Vol. 3). London: Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe.
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IV. Legacy
The Royal Academy of Painting is indebted to Le Brun for its existence; and, notwithstanding the opposition he met with from several of its members, he never ceased employing all his interest to render it permanent. He likewise solicited admission into that of Rome, where he particularly justified the title with which he had been honored, of "Prince of the Academy of St. Luke", which was conferred upon him two years successively, notwithstanding the statutes that interdict the bestowal of such a distinction upon a stranger. Many artists have not failed to acknowledge the services they received from Le Brun, nor was he ever the enemy of Miguard, though he indulged towards him the most intolerable rancour. At length a lingering illness compelled Le Brun to retire from court to his manufactory at the Gobelins, of which he was the director, and where he died in the year 1690.

Le Brun. (1815). In The historic gallery of portraits and paintings; and biographical review (Vol. 3). London: Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe.
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