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Charles Le Brun

Le Brun, Charles (shärl lə bröNˈ) [key], 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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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