French School of the late 17th century attributed to the workshop of Charles Lebrun (1619-1690)
Our painting probably represents a scene in Alexander's life
Canvas 68 cm by 56 cm.
Superb old frame of 83 cm by 72 cm
Charles Lebrun (1619-1690)
Charles Le Brun (or Lebrun) is the son of sculptor Nicolas Le Brun who worked at the mansion of Chancellor Pierre Séguier (1588-1672). Seguier joins the high magistracy and he will become the protector of the academy. From the age of eleven, the young Charles is noticed by Séguier who lodges him in his hotel and gives him as a teacher the painter Simon Vouet (1590-1649). Le Brun starts producing under the direction of Séguier from the age of fifteen. The great master of classicism Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) then takes the relay of Vouet near Le Brun. The young painter will accompany Poussin to Rome in 1642 and he will remain there for four years. Of course, to form, Le Brun copies the ancient Roman but also Raphael, the Carracci and Stone of Cortona. He also paints several paintings in the style of ancient history.
In 1646, Le Brun is back in Paris. With the support of Séguier he immediately gets important orders. The influence of Séguier also allowed him to obtain from Mazarin (1602-1661) the founding of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1648. He became secretary. When Nicolas Fouquet (1615-1631), the wealthy Superintendent of Finance, offered him to decorate his castle Vaux-le-Vicomte, Le Brun can deploy the full range of his expertise. Walls, ceilings, sculptures, tapestries, gardens are made under his direction from 1656 to 1661.
The disgrace of Fouquet does not reach Le Brun. He also works for Colbert (1619-1683) and for King Louis XIV (1638-1715). In 1663, Colbert appointed him director of the Gobelins factory, which specialized first in tapestries but also made furniture and objets d'art from 1667. Between the Brun and Louis XIV, there were aesthetic affinities (taste of the classical, the grandeur, the solemnity) that the painter will know how to put at the service of the ambitions of the great king. The royal commissions follow each other, especially a series of large historical paintings illustrating the glory of Alexander: Alexander's entry into Babylon (1664). Director of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1663, the King's first painter in 1664 (with an annual pension of 12,000 books), Charles Le Brun embodies artistic success. But the big deal is obviously the decoration of the Palace of Versailles which he is responsible from 1661. He will work there for thirty years, supervising and directing the achievements of several hundred artists and craftsmen. His personal achievements are impressive considering all the responsibilities he assumed: Ambassadors' Staircase, Ice Hall, Peace and War Shows. The power of work of Le Brun is exceptional.
In the early 1670s, he worked on the decoration of the Château de Sceaux, owned by Colbert. When the Marquis de Louvois (1641-1691) succeeded Colbert as Superintendent of Buildings, Arts and Manufactures in 1683, he replaced Le Brun with Pierre Mignard (1612-1695). The Brown withdraws then and he dies in Paris in 1690