La Famille de Darius aux pieds d'Alexandre
Charles Le Brun painted this work, also known as The Tent of Darius, at Fontainebleau under the eyes of Louis XIV. It enjoyed great success with the king and the public and was later followed by four colossal paintings showing Alexander the Great in battle. In the 1670s, Le Brun personally chose the printmakers Gérard Audran and Gérard Edelinck to reproduce these paintings as engravings. The one seen here, pulled from two copperplates, is actually the smallest of these monumental prints. It is especially precious because Le Brun’s painting was cut down significantly in 1682, when it was installed in the Mars Salon at Versailles.
The painting represents a famous episode from the history of Alexander, in which the conqueror displays a “singular example of restraint and clemency.” Le Brun lavished particular care on the depiction of the characters’ facial expressions, each illustrating a different “passion of the soul.”