Amy Swan

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


Art History

Committee Chair

Rhonda Reymond

Committee Co-Chair

Michael Slaven

Committee Member

Janet Snyder


As one of the founders of the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1648, and Chief Painter to the King, Charles Le Brun was an influential artist and theorist of his time. One can argue his greatest success was his contribution at the Château de Versailles, a glittering palace built under the direction of Louis XIV. The Salon de la Guerre and the Salon de la Paix (1685- 86) were the last projects he completed at Versailles. The Salon de la Guerre celebrates France's contemporary military victories. Le Brun decorated the ceiling the Salon de la Paix with images of the peace given to Europe by France. This thesis argues that the figures in the salons can be understood by applying Le Brun's concept of Expression, about which he lectured in his Conference sur l'Expression (ca. 1668) at the Royal Academy. Le Brun used his concept of Expressions in the salons to portray the figures with individual Expressions. By using the Expressions in the Salon de la Guerre and the Salon de la Paix, Le Brun demonstrated the splendor France and Europe achieved under the absolute monarchy. Nicolas Poussin's Musical Modes and Rene Descartes Passions of the Soul influenced Le Brun while he was creating his own Expressions. Le Brun and his Conference as a whole are under-studied. There is no clear evidence of where, when, and why he used his Expressions. This examination of the salons proves Le Brun used his Expressions throughout his career to glorify the King.