Charles Le Brun

  • 1619 - 1690
  • Artist, Author, Designer
  • French

Charles Le Brun was the most important and influential designer during the reign of the French king, Louis XIV. His work in the Baroque style permeated design and decoration in almost every medium; for nearly thirty years he personally designed or supervised the production of most of the paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects commissioned by the French court. Trained as a painter, Le Brun worked with many of the leading artists of his day, including Simon Vouet and Nicolas Poussin, with whom he studied in Rome.

In the 1650s Nicolas Fouquet, the powerful and influential minister of finance, commissioned Le Brun to decorate his chapel at the château of Vaux-le-Vicomte; his work there made Le Brun's reputation. After Louis XIV saw Vaux, he summoned Le Brun to Fontainebleau in 1660, eventually making him premier peintre du roi (First Painter to the King), a position with enormous power and influence and a large salary. Three years later, he was appointed as director of the Gobelins tapestry manufactory, which he expanded from a small tapestry workshop to a large factory supplying all the royal houses of Europe with furniture, tapestries, and other works of arts. He worked as a painter and designer at the various royal palaces, including Fontainebleau and the Louvre, but his greatest contribution was his work at the newly rebuilt Versailles.