French painter Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) was declared by King Louis XIV ‘the greatest French artist of all time’ and received the title of Premier Peintre du Roi (First Painter of the King) in 1662. Evidently popular with royalty, Le Brun was given the prestigious honour of adorning the great Palace of Versailles, which was the centre of political power in France from 1682 until 1789, with his paintings. A symbol of royal absolutism and the embodiment of French art and decadence, Versailles is home to some of Le Brun’s greatest painted masterpieces, from the spectacular Halls of War and Peace, to The Ambassador’s Staircase and the Great Hall of Mirrors. Lesser-known, however, is the collection of preparatory sketches of these paintings, where Le Brun’s imagination, inspiration and planning are revealed in some 350 drawings. Over the past few years, the Graphic Arts Department of the Louvre Museum has restored them to their original splendour and glory, and La Caixa foundation has brought this artistic collection of sensitive, personal drawings to Barcelona, giving a little insight into the creative psyche of this French painter.
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