LE BRUN, Charles
(b. 1619, Paris, d. 1690, Paris)
Chancellor Séguier at the Entry of Louis XIV into Paris1655-61
Oil on canvas, 295 x 351 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Le Brun must not be rejected as a mere decorator, even though so much of his other art is relatively inaccessible, deposited in provincial museums or surrounded in the Louvre by so much more exciting and exacting painting. There was no sense of his inferiority at the time - on the contrary, his art was highly esteemed by his contemporaries - and the ambivalent attitude towards him came about only in later centuries when the art of the period came to be assessed as history. Le Brun was in fact the most important painter in France in the second half of the century and the portrait of Chancellor Séguier (1588 - 1672) in the Louvre justifies a high estimation of his talent.
The composition forms an enormous pyramid with the figure of Séguier at its apex. The scale is almost life-size, and the characterization of the sitters is worthy of Champaigne. Acknowledged as a masterpiece even though the name of Le Brun is forgotten, it is a unique record of an important official surrounded by his attendants. The date is uncertain, but it is likely to be from the 1650s.