Art: Official Artist

Whatever Louis XIV wanted, Louis XIV got—in art as well as in life. In payment he gave royal protection, and no one basked more deliciously in the Sun King's rays than Charles Le Brun, "First Painter of the King" and for 20 years the absolute arbiter and benevolent tyrant of le bon gout français. Swept into museum storerooms as succeeding generations downgraded 17th century classicism, Le Brun has been rehabilitated this summer in an almost too complete exhibition at the Château de Versailles.

The setting could not be more appropriate; Le Brun's long career winged toward Versailles like an arrow to the...

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