Le Brun, Charles

Le Brun, Charles

(shärl lə bröN`), 1619–90, French painter, decorator, and architect. He studied with Vouet and in Rome. Strongly influenced by Poussin, he returned in 1646 to Paris, where he gradually developed a more decorative form of classicism. He decorated the Hôtel Lambert and worked at Vaux-le-Vicomte with the architect Le Vau. His first royal commission (1661), the painting The Family of Darius before Alexander, established his favor with Louis XIV. With the support of Colbert, he became painter to the king in 1662. Le Brun controlled artistic production and theory in France for more than two decades. Appointed head of the Gobelins works in 1663, he was responsible for the design of royal furnishings. He supervised the work of a large corps of painters, sculptors, engravers, weavers, and other decorators. He was also director of the Académie royale, through which office he set the standard for the Grand Manner and imposed a stringent discipline upon artistic expression. Among his numerous achievements are the decorations at Versailles. In collaboration with J. H. Mansart, he designed several rooms there, including the Galerie des Glaces. Though not a highly original artist, Le Brun was a skilled administrator and was able to create an atmosphere of richness and splendor consonant with the age of Louis XIV.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Le Brun, Charles

 

(also C. Lebrun). Born Feb. 24, 1619, in Paris; died there Feb. 12,1690. French painter, decorator, and graphic artist.

Le Brun studied under F. Perrier (from 1632) and S. Vouet (1634–37). He visited Italy with N. Poussin between 1642 and 1646, where he studied the works of Raphael, the Bolognese academic masters, and ancient sculptors. One of the founders of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris in 1648, he became its rector in 1668. In the 1660’s, Le Brun was made first painter to the king and director of the royal Gobelin factory. He supervised the interior decoration of the Louvre, Versailles, and other palaces. He decorated ceilings, including the vaults of the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles (1678–84), designed Gobelin patterns, and drew sketches for furniture and garden sculpture. In Le Brun’s paintings, such as Repentant Magdalene (1656–57, Louvre, Paris) and the series The History of Alexander the Great (1660–68, Louvre), classicist composition, permeated by theatrical emotionality, is combined with decorative baroque splendor.

REFERENCES

Charles Le Brun: Château de Versailles. Exposition. Juillet-octobre, 1963. [Catalogue.] Paris, 1963. (Bibliography.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.