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Charles le Brun was already killin’ it with his commissions at the age of fifteen.  

At age 23 he moved to Rome for four years, before returning to Paris.  When he went back to grand ol’ Paree, he had patrons up to his ears.  Seriously. Le Brun was slaying at the painting game.

He was also kind of a dick. When he was working at the Vaux-le-Vicomte, he decided he wanted to win over Cardinal Mazarin, so he pitted French politician, Colbert (not Stephen), against Superintendent Fouquet, one of le Brun’s most important patrons.  Together, Colbert and le Brun took control of the Academy of Painting and Sculpture and the Academy of France at Rome and changed industrial arts.

In 1660, Gobelins--not "goblins," a school for the manufactured arts, mainly tapestries--was created.  Le Brun was the director there, so through Gobelins and the Academy, he had his influence dripping on every French creation.  He was the originator of the Louis XIV Style.  [Side note: being king must be awesome because things are named after you even when you had nothing to do with it.]

From 1660 to 1663, every piece of art done for the royal palaces were directed by le Brun, starting with a series about the history of Alexander the Great.  Le Brun further defined the academic style when he became the director Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. He was finally the total #1 head honcho unchallenged master of 17th-century French art.

His demise was inevitable, though.  Colbert’s successor was no fan of le Brun, and even though the king was still a big supporter, le Brun felt less powerful than he used to be.  This contributed to the illness that eventually killed him.  It's a long fall from the top.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Charles Le Brun

Charles Le Brun (baptised 24 February 1619 – 12 February 1690) was a French painter, physiognomist, art theorist, and a director of several art schools of his time. As court painter to Louis XIV, who declared him "the greatest French artist of all time", he was a dominant figure in 17th-century French art and much influenced by Nicolas Poussin.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Charles Le Brun

Comments (2)


Physiognomy is weird.


Maya Jacobson on Charles le Brun: 'He was also kind of a dick'. She does not offer up much in the way of hard evidence, but since he was an artist and a physiognomist, I am guessing she is right :)