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Charles Le Brun
(February 24, 1619 - February 22, 1690) France

Charles Le Brun

Painter

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Charles Le Brun was born in Paris; he attracted the notice of Chancellor Séguier, who placed him at the age of eleven in the studio of Simon Vouet. He was also a pupil of François Perrier. At fifteen he received commissions from Cardinal Richelieu, in the execution of which he displayed an ability which obtained the generous commendations of Nicolas Poussin, in whose company Le Brun started for Rome in 1642.

In Rome he remained four years in the receipt of a pension due to the liberality of the chancellor. There he worked under Poussin, adapting the latter's theories of art.

On his return to Paris in 1646, Le Brun found numerous patrons, of whom Superintendent Fouquet was the most important, for whom he painted a large portrait of Anne of Austria. Employed at Vaux-le-Vicomte, Le Brun ingratiated himself with Mazarin, then secretly pitting Colbert against Fouquet. Colbert also promptly recognized Le Brun's powers of organization, and attached him to his interests.

In 1660 they established the Gobelins, which at first was a great school for the manufacture, not of tapestries only, but of every class of furniture required in the royal palaces. Commanding the industrial arts through the Gobelins - of which he was director - and the whole artist world through the Academy - in which he successively held every post - Le Brun imprinted his own character on all that was produced in France during his lifetime, he was the originator of Louis XIV Style and gave a direction to the national tendencies which endured centuries after his death.

Louis XIV ennobled Le Brun (December, 1662), who was also created Premier Peintre du Roi (First Painter to His Majesty) with a pension of 12,000 livres, the same amount as he had yearly received in the service of the magnificent Fouquet. The King had declared him "the greatest French artist of all time".

From this date all that was done in the royal palaces was directed by Le Brun. In 1663, he became director of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, where he laid the basis of academicism and became the all-powerful, peerless master of seventeenth century French art.

At the death of Colbert, François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois, Colbert's enemy, who succeeded as superintendent in the department of public works, showed no favour to Le Brun who was Colbert's favorite, and in spite of the king's continued support Le Brun felt a bitter change in his position. This contributed to the illness which ended in his death in his private mansion, in Paris.

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Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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