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Charles Le Brun

The Deification of Aeneas


Charles Le Brun
Paris 1619 – Paris 1690


The Deification of Aeneas




Oil on canvas


81.3 x 97.7 cm


Purchase, John W. Tempest Fund, inv. 1953.1082


Western Art

In this painting by Le Brun, the Roman goddess of love Venus is seen anointing her kneeling son Aeneas before he fights Turnus for the possession of Rome. She holds the divine food, ambrosia and nectar she will apply to Aeneas’ lips so that he may join the pantheon of gods. At the left, the river god who has cleansed away Aeneas’ mortality looks on, and two nymphs peer out from the forest glade in the background. In the lower corners, putti (cherub) play with the arms of the god Vulcan forged for Aeneas at Venus’ behest (Virgil, Aeneid). This painting can be dated to Le Brun’s Roman period. Greatly influenced by Poussin, Le Brun followed him back to Rome, where they worked in close association until 1646, when Le Brun returned to France. Le Brun became one of the most powerful and influential artists of his time, and was entrusted with the decoration of the Château de Versailles for Louis XIV.

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