His popularity

Some historians have argued that LeBrun was a despot who used his power to exert artistic tyranny over the seventeenth century. This is an absurd claim with no factual documentation. It is worth pointing out that during the year that Colbert died, the new Minister Louvois tried to attack LeBrun at the Royal Academy, thinking that given the choice between a painter and the all-powerfull Minister, the members of the Academy would choose the Minister. LeBrun gave up his functions of Chancellor and Rector of the Academy. In reality, he was aware of the hostility threatening him and hoped to obtain a new mandate throug re-election. This tactic was so successfull that his colleagues gave him the new title of Director in addition to being re-elected to the positions of Chancellor and Rector. This humiliated Louvois before the entire Academy and served to fuel his animosity.

His colleagues and workers at Gobelins also showed great respect for their Master. Celebrations were held every year in honour of the First Painter; the Mai des Gobelins became a testimony of the esteem and allegiance shown to LeBrun by all the community that he governed.

After LeBrun's death, Louvois, Colbert's successor, greatly undermined the painter's posthumous popularity, He issued an order to affix seals to all of the painter's works and drawings, under the pretext that all of the First Painter's work should be dedicated to the King alone. A great number of LeBrun's masterpieces were seized and placed in vaults of the Louvre, and for centuries, were not accessible to the public. As a result, virtually none of LeBrun's works can be found anywere in the world outside France, but this in no way diminishes the artist's greatness. The King had declared him '' the greatest French artist of all time ''.

The artist's popularity was not restricted to France or Italy. Distinguished ambassadors who came from all points of the globe to the court of Louis XIV visited LeBrun's artworks. Nivelon...(LeBrun's student )...,tells of how '' the famous ambassador from Moscow, renonowed for his high rank and his valour, embraced Monsieur LeBrun and told him how proud he felt for France for having a such man. The Ethiopian ambassador asked Monsieur LeBrun in his vivid language if the marvelous creations he saw there were not the work of supernatural artisans and if their master was not endowed with genius from some higher source''. Officials from Algeria, Morocco and Siam visiting France demonstrated the same kind of admiration for the First Painter.

LeBrun was above all the French artist to achieve success abroad, and worldwide prestige enjoyed by French art for nearly two centuries had its origin in his era.

A recent study showed that the world's most visited work of art by an Old Master Painter is La Joconde by Leonardo Da Vinci. The second is the Hall Of Mirrors at Versailles, created by Le Brun.