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Eustache Le Sueur
Birth Date: 
Death Date: 
The eighteenth century ranked Le Sueur with Nicolas Poussin and Raphael, but posterity has not esteemed him as highly. Many of his great decorative ensembles, such as the Cabinet de ['Amour and the Chambre des Muses for the H6tel Lambert, have been dispersed (Paris, Musee du Louvre), a number of canvases have disappeared, and some of his most famous works survive in poor condition. The son of an illiterate artisan, Le Sueur was born and lived his entire life in Paris. Apprenticed as a boy to Simon Vouet, the most influential French artist of the era, he was exposed to the art of antiquity and Italian painting by visits to Parisian collections and the Chateau de Fontainebleau; and he refined his taste by contacts with the cultural leaders of seventeenth-century Paris. Vouet assisted his favorite pupil with commissions at the beginning of his career, but Le Sueur's reputation was firmly estabfished with Life of Saint Bruno, 1645-48 (Paris, Musee du Louvre), a series of twenty-two pictures executed for the cloister of the Charterhouse of Paris. As a history painter, the artist became a founding member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1648, receiving commissions from royalty, the church, and private patrons. The death of this "French Raphael" at the age of thirty-eight, followed closely by many of the leading painters of his generation, cleared the way for Charles Le Brun's ascendancy to artistic dictator of France during the reign of Louis XIV.