(b. 1656, Paris, d. 1746, Paris)

Portrait of Charles Le Brun

Oil on canvas, 232 x 187 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

In 1683 Largillière was accepted into the Academy, and in 1686 he submitted as his Diploma work the portrait of Le Brun, now in the Louvre. In this work he applies his Flemish methods to producing what is one of the most typical portraits of the Grand Siècle. He creates a new genre, the state-portrait of an artist. Up till this time artists had usually painted themselves without any particular setting or apparatus. Some Flemish and Dutch painters are shown at work in their studio, surrounded by the actual furnishings of the place. Poussin had created a unique classical model with a background of mainly blank canvases, a sort of abstraction of a studio. Largillierre depicts Le Brun surrounded not by the actual appurtenances of a studio, but by objects symbolical of his achievement - the classical casts on which he based his style, the sketches for or engravings after his most celebrated works - just as in a royal portrait the King is shown with the attributes of the Monarchy.

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