Artist: Charles Le Brun
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 151 x 213 cm
Location: Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Luke 2:16-19: So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over.
This birth is no mere arrival of a new life, as poignant as each such event is. The story is not told so that hearers can identify with the new mother and father or enjoy a story of hope, of a touching birth in humble surroundings. This birth has value because of whose birth it is. The shepherds have found that the angel's words were true, that events have transpired just as they had been told. God's word is coming to pass; his plan is again strategically at work. They break out in praise to God because he has sent Jesus, the Savior, Lord and Christ. This picture shows how clever Le Brun was at composition, at mingling the world beyond with earthly life and at controlling the fantastic effects of the light produced by a screened fire.
Charles Le Brun (February, 1619, - February 1690), was a French painter and designer who became the arbiter of artistic production in France during the last half of the 17th century. After training with Vouet he went to Rome in 1642 and worked under Poussin, becoming a convert to the latter's theories of art. He returned to Paris in 1646. Possessing both technical facility and the capacity to organize and carry out many vast projects, Le Brun personally created or supervised the production of most of the paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects commissioned by the French government for three decades during the reign of Louis XIV. Under his direction French artists created a homogeneous style that came to be accepted throughout Europe as the paragon of academic and propagandistic art.