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New Paintings by Charles Le Brun

Château de Sucy-en-Brie, designed by François Le VauLouis XIV had a fine artistic eye, not to mention a good musical ear, and he supported excellent artists and musicians. His court painter, Charles Le Brun, did most of the outrageous paintings at Versailles. Now, it appears that some new paintings have been attributed to him, according to an article by Dominique Meunier (Au château de Sucy-en-Brie, des peintures attribuées à Charles Le Brun, August 21) in Le Monde (my translation):

The ceiling, in very poor condition, of one of the salons of the Château of Sucy-en-Brie (Val-de-Marne) contains two medallions. The first depicts Cupids and a chariot pulled by doves, and the second shows Apollo, also on a chariot, mastering petulant stallions. Each corner is guarded by fabulous creatures with unicorn heads. These paintings are the work of Charles Le Brun (1619-1690), who presided over the decoration of the Château of Versailles. In 1975, during the official assessment of Sucy, they had been attributed to his school but no one was sure if he had himself worked on creating them. Today, it is a certainty.

Christiane Schmükle-Mollard, chief architect for the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, who is directing the restoration, is categorical. The flesh and the curls of the Cupids are Le Brun. The details do not lie. In the horses of Apollo's chariot, we see sketches for work realized in the Salon d'Hercule [where I heard a concert two years ago], at Versailles. The quality of drawing, the manner of painting the reliefs, the ornamental borders, the depth of the material surely belong to the master. [...] This treasure nearly disappeared. The Caisse des dépôts et consignations, which had purchased the lands in 1955, built in the vast grounds 21 10-story apartment buildings. It did not know what to do with the château, enrolled on the supplementary inventory of Historic Monuments in 1941, which the local government at the time had supposedly wanted to destroy in order to build a retirement home. So the building went through a long decline. The woodwork, the furniture, the chimneys, the painting, the stucco have been looted, burned, and otherwise destroyed. The roofs, the doors, the windows are all decayed, letting in wind and rain.
The chapel on the ground floor has a ceiling fresco with angel musicians, also attributed to Le Brun. The restoration work will be completed by July 2006. Parts of the Château of Sucy-en-Brie will be open to the public as part of the yearly Journées du patrimoine (which I reported on last year, of course), on September 17 and 18. I cannot locate any images of the paintings, but I'll keep looking.


Anonymous said...

The attribution of Le Brun, for me, demands to be considered after the end of the restoration. What was visible somme fifteen years ago, when I studied the paintings of the XVIIth century for my thesis ("La Peinture en Brie au XVIIè siècle"), could be placed in the time of Le Brun (which is confirmed by the documents available), but I have doubted the idea that it could be by that painter himself (also according to the documents, and the fact that Lambert was a friend of Foucquet and falled with him in disgrace).
I'm living near Sucy. The first to obtain photographs will share it, will he?...
Best regards,

Charles T. Downey said...

Sylvain, thanks for your fascinating comment, which I have just now read. I still haven't found any images, but I would to hear more about your work on 18th-century painting.

Anonymous said...

Dear Charles,
You can find some informations about my work on 17th century painting (rather than 18th) on my website.

yours sincerely

Sylvain Kerspern