LE BRUN, Charles
(b. 1619, Paris, d. 1690, Paris)

The Resolution of Louis XIV to Make War on the Dutch Republic

Oil on canvas, 72 x 98 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Auxerrre

At the end of the 1670s Le Brun began the most exacting of his tasks - the decoration of the ceiling of the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles. Many of the sketches for the main compositions survive, and allow an assessment, on a small scale, of his inventiveness, which is usually lost in the vastness of the decorated ensemble. A typical example is The Resolution of Louis XIV to Make War on the Dutch Republic, depicting an event which was to have enormous repercussions (Louis XIV was eventually defeated by the Dutch). The handling, rapid and sure, is taken almost completely from Rubens, and yet the composition is original and dramatic, and demonstrates that Le Brun conformed to the grand tradition of Rubens and Pietro da Cortona in Italy. His work at Versailles shows that he belongs among the great decorative painters on the grounds of his energy, originality and appropriateness of setting, but even in France his reputation is not as high as it should be.

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