Schematic Passion: Charles Le Brun and his Conference on Expression

Stuart 104

As founder of the French Academy and court painter to Louis XIV, Charles Le Brun (1619-90) influenced an era of visual art practice. His Conference on Expression detailed, along the lines established in Descartes's theory of the inner emotional passions, a visual guide for artists to follow as emotive states became manifest on the surface of the body. These instructive lectures and his drawing albums of diagrammatic facial expression formed a theoretical and practical base to be contended with through modern time. This Humanities Day talk will discuss the formation of Le Brun's theory with selections from the Academy lecture, address the problem of Le Brun as historical specter, and include recent works by David Schutter on the subject.