Brun, Charles Le

, an illustrious French painter, was of Scottish extraction, and born in 1619. His father was a statuary by profession. At three years of age it is reported that he drew figures with charcoal; and at twelve he drew the picture of his uncle so well, that it still passes for a fine piece. His father being employed in the gardens at Seguier, and having brought his son along with him, the chancellor of that name took a liking to him, and placed him with Simon Vouet, an eminent painter, who was greatly surprised at young Le Brun’s amazing proficiency. He was afterwards sent to Fontainbleau, to take copies of some of Raphael’s pieces. The chancellor sent him next to Italy, and supported him there for six years. Le Brun, on his return, met with the celebrated Poussin, by whose conversation he greatly improved himself in his art, and contracted a friendship with him which lasted as long as their lives. Cardinal Mazarin, a good judge of painting, took great notice of Le Brun, and often sat by him while he was at work. A painting of St. Stephen, which he finished in 1651, raised his reputation to the highest pitch. Soon after this, the king, upon the representation of M. Colbert, made him his first painter, and conferred on him the order of St. Michael. His majesty employed two hours every day in looking over him, whilst he was painting the family of Darius at Fontainbleau. About 1662, be began his five large pieces of the history of Alexander the Great, in which he is said to have set the actions of that conqueror in a more glorious light than Quintus Curtius in his history. He procured several advantages for the royal academy of painting and sculpture | at Paris, and formed the plan of another for the students of his own nation at Rome. There was scarce any thing done for the advancement of the fine arts in which he was not consulted. It was through the interest of M. Colbert that the king gave him the direction of all his works? and particularly of his royal manufactory at the Gobelins, where he had a handsome house, with a genteel salary assigned to him. He was also made director and chancellor of the royal academy, and shewed the greatest zeal to encourage the fine arts in France. He possessed in a great degree that enthusiasm which animates the efforts, and increases the raptures of the artist. Some one said before him of his fine picture of the Magdalen, “that the contrite penitent was really weeping.” “That, 7 * said he,” is perhaps all that you can see; I hear her sigh.“He was endowed with a vast inventive genius, which extended itself to arts of every kind. He was well acquainted with the history and manners of all nations. Besides his extraordinary talents, his behaviour was so genteel, and his address Sq pleasing, that he attracted the regard and affection of the whole court of France: where, by the places and pensions conferred on him by the king, he made a very considerable figure. He died at his house in. the Gobelins in 1690, leaving a wife, but no children. He was author of a curious treatise of” Physiognomy“and of another of the” Characters of the Passions."

The paintings which gained him greatest reputation were, besides what we have already mentioned, those which he finished at Fontainbleau, the great stair-case at Versailles, but especially the grand gallery there, which was the last of his works, and is said to have taken him up fourteen years. A more particular account of these, and a general character of his other performances, may be found in the writings of his countrymen, who have been rery lavish in his praises, and very full in their accounts of his works. 1


Argenville.—Pilkington.—Strutt.—Perault’s Hommes Illustres.